Australia’s biosecurity system capitalises on our geographical isolation and climatic conditions to ensure that Australia is one of the few countries in the world to remain free from many of the world’s most severe pests and diseases. However the nature and magnitude of the biosecurity risks are changing as Australia is increasingly affected by climate change and increasing global movement of goods and people.
This, together with the number and complexity of plant pests, the wide range of production and native plant hosts in Australia, and our increasing aspirations for plant exports, demands a more structured approach to optimising our plant biosecurity management. We need a shared understanding - shared concepts, language and vision - about the plant biosecurity system and its elements, so that common approaches can be developed and the priorities identified and addressed.
The biosecurity role in plant import and export regulatory processes is relatively mature. Two other biosecurity management processes are proposed to (1) identify and address significantly changing biosecurity risks and (2) to identify and respond to changing pest status. These two need further national work.
The recently developed Australian plant health prioritisation framework is a first step towards a national approach to changing biosecurity risks. A key second step has been identifying national priority exotic plant pests. These provide a platform for developing national approaches for risk scanning and triage.
Australia has a well-practised national system for emergency responses to new incursions, has optimised its national diagnostic network (within the current resources) and is working to improve its national surveillance capacity. We are less mature with regard to how we work together to manage established plant pests that have an impact on trade. The development of national frameworks for plant health trade, area freedom certification and general surveillance are our first steps towards a common national approach.