Call to tackle biosecurity threats

By Country News

Two recent reports on the state of biosecurity operations in Australia have highlighted the need for agencies to better respond to biosecurity risk and for adequate investment in detection systems, according to the NSW Farmers Biosecurity Committee.

Committee chair Ian McColl said the NSW Auditor-General’s report into the state’s biosecurity risk management and a review of pest and disease interceptions and incursions from the Inspector General have uncovered serious gaps in biosecurity functions.

‘‘Both these reports have highlighted the need for increased government investment into frontline resources,’’ Mr McColl said.

‘‘The increased movement of passengers and goods are increasingly testing the biosecurity system and our agricultural industries are facing serious biosecurity threats from incoming passengers and mail, including African swine fever and foot and mouth disease.

‘‘The Department of Agriculture has so far worked effectively to keep these diseases out, but it needs to be adequately resourced to ensure this continues into the future.’’

Mr McColl said the Inspector General raised several resourcing issues, including funding of the detector dog program, which relied on adequately trained staff and animals.

‘‘Any drive for staffing efficiencies by the department shouldn’t compromise our biosecurity capabilities at the border.’’

The Inspector General’s report also recommended better collection of data and sharing of information to ease pressure on staffing requirements.