We must share the biosecurity load

We must share the biosecurity load

Opinion
African Swine Fever is on Australia's doorstep.

African Swine Fever is on Australia's doorstep.

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New biosecurity risks emerge through significant increases in trade, greater numbers of air and sea passengers, and growing demand for air freight.

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This week, three international tourists had their visas cancelled for failing to declare meat and plant products in their luggage.

With African Swine Fever on our doorstep, it's disappointing to see that people are being intentionally non-compliant with our biosecurity laws, putting our agricultural industries and environment at risk.

The Australian government has increased fines for breaches - but a stronger deterrent may be needed.

New biosecurity risks emerge through significant increases in trade, greater numbers of air and sea passengers, and growing demand for air freight.

We know that biosecurity declarations from incoming passengers are increasing.

It's good that many people are trying to do the right thing by declaring potentially risky items - it's better to be on the safe side.

It's essential that this goodwill from the public is underpinned by strong capabilities in surveillance and detection at our borders.

Our biosecurity system can only work when it is properly funded.

Last year, the Australian government announced a levy on sea imports to fund improvements to our biosecurity system.

Progress on this levy has stalled significantly, and NSW Farmers calls on the Australian government to prioritise its implementation.

The biosecurity import levy was a recommendation of the 2017 Independent review of Australia's biosecurity system, which identified opportunities for cost sharing in biosecurity.

NSW Farmers supports the concept of biosecurity as a shared responsibility and believes that supply chain participants who create biosecurity risks should invest in prevention and management of those risks.

Revenue raised from the levy collection should be allocated to new activities on high-risk pathways, and shouldn't be used for activities that are already cost-recovered.

Global biosecurity threats are only going to become more common, and we need to develop new approaches to risk management, along with sustainable funding models.

The wellbeing of our regional communities and our ability to produce high-quality food and fibre depends on us getting biosecurity right.

  • Ian McColl is chair of the NSW Farmers Biosecurity Committee
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