Norfolk Island differs from mainland Australia in many aspects. It is a subtropical island with high rainfall and deep volcanic soils. The Norfolk Island territory covers 3,455 hectares across three islands (Norfolk, Nepean and Philip) and is situated off the east coast of Australia approximately 1400 km due east, 800 km north of New Zealand and 600 km south of New Caledonia in the Coral Sea. The Island’s isolation has led to a unique history of biological evolution. It possesses a unique flora and fauna, with a number of endemic plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world. Additionally, the Island’s community depends on this relatively pest-free environment to grow most produce to support the community. These attributes make the island vulnerable to the introduction of pests, emphasising the need for specialised biosecurity assessment and measures. In addition, this situation also provides a unique opportunity to the Department to study many aspects of biosecurity science in Australia.
The Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is now directly involved in the biosecurity management and assessment of new import opportunities for the island. Crucial to this assessment is understanding Norfolk’s unique Island biosecurity status and applying it to this review.
Prior to 1 July 2016 Norfolk Island was a self-governing external territory of Australia and had responsibility for its own quarantine processes. As of that date the self-governing status was repealed and the Commonwealth of Australia became directly responsible for plant biosecurity on Norfolk Island. Historically Norfolk Island permitted only four plant products to be imported: potatoes, ginger, garlic and onions. With the implementation of the change in circumstances there is potential for a wider range of plant and plant-based commodities to be imported.