THE National Farmers’ Federation has welcomed the release of the National Biosecurity Strategy, but reiterated a call for sustainable funding.
NFF president Fiona Simson said the strategy was a critical step in safeguarding Australia’s farm sector, but warned without a clear path forward for sustainable funding, it “may not be worth the paper it’s written on”.
“We’re continuing to call for a long-term, sustainable funding model for our biosecurity system.”
She said the funding issue was identified in, but not solved by, Minister for Agriculture Murray Watt’s announcement of the strategy yesterday.
She said Minister Watt announced the Federal Government will provide a further $10 million to Indonesia for vaccines and technical support, and this was welcomed, “but we do need to continue working towards a long-term funding pipeline”.
“We know that year after year, the pressure on our biosecurity system continues to mount as the volume of people and cargo entering the country grows.
“We need a funding model that keeps pace with that risk, rather than scraping for ad hoc handouts from the Federal Budget,” she said.
Ms Simson said the immense pressure on Australia’s biosecurity system warranted a clear strategy for the future.
“The NFF called for the development of this strategy in 2020 to give clarity and direction to the system as it responded to a new generation of threats.
“This call was answered by Minister Littleproud in 2021 and we’re relieved today to see this in the public domain, and for the real work of enhancing the system to begin,” she said.
“This strategy couldn’t come at a more critical time. Australia is under siege from a litany of serious pests and diseases.
“A serious biosecurity breach could unravel our plan to become Australia’s next $100 billion industry. A single breach could devastate our economy, our food system, and our natural environment.
“Every Australian who eats, or who values our beautiful natural places has something at stake here.”
Ms Simson said the strategy would clarify and direct the efforts of Australia’s complex biosecurity system.
“The strategy will give clearer purpose and direction to the complex maze of industry and government bodies responsible for biosecurity in Australia.
“This guidance is necessary to move the whole system towards common goals of embracing innovation and technology, deepening partnerships, and improving collaboration.”
Ms Simson said the strategy must be reviewed and updated and importantly it must be reported against.
“It has rightly set some transformational objectives, and governments must be held accountable to make sure they deliver against the plan.”