The Federal Budget provided some positive signs for Australian grain producers who’ve been calling for greater resourcing and investments, to strengthen biosecurity prevention and protections.
However, with more action needed and promised by Canberra with a full budget in May next year, raising expectations of good, sustainable outcomes being delivered, there’s no room for complacency from the new government.
Pic: Grains Biosecurity Officer for WA, Jeff Russell, and Barry Large, raising awareness about biosecurity, as part of the Grains Farm Biosecurity Program with GPA, Plant Health Australia and State Governments.
Grain Producers Australia welcomed comments by Federal Agriculture Minister, Murray Watt, in his speech at the CropLife budget breakfast last week, hosted by the National Rural Press Club.
GPA Chair and WA grain producer, Barry Large, said Minister Watt’s statement about the budget delivering a “substantial down payment” on the government’s election commitment to deliver long-term sustainable biosecurity funding, was positive news.
“We clearly support Minister Watt’s commitment to start a new process and properly consult with industry and other stakeholders on sustainable biosecurity funding,” he said.
“We also welcome statements that this conversation will formally commence this week and this process will include meaningful conversations with stakeholders on the introduction of a biosecurity levy to ensure the new government doesn’t repeat the previous government’s mistakes.
“GPA has long advocated for the introduction of a container levy, given containers are a major vector for serious pests hitchhiking their way into Australia.
“We welcome fresh moves to explore a more equitable system, where importers are contributing their fair share towards the actual costs of biosecurity activities, to better manage risks.”
GPA Chief Executive, Colin Bettles, said the move backed GPA’s submission to the Senate biosecurity inquiry, urging tougher preventative measures with appropriate resourcing to help protect against the social and economic impacts of devastating pests and incursions such as Khapra beetle.
“Khapra is public enemy number one for Australia’s grains industry,” he said.
“It’s not present in Australia now, and a we want to keep it that way, because this tiny pest would leave a big damage bill of $15.5 billion over 20 years and the loss of vital grain market access.
Pic: public enemy number one for Australia’s grains industry - Khapra beetle.
“A levy on all imported containers will help resource the biosecurity job properly to ensure we can meet the increasing size, complexity, demands and risks of a shifting global trade.
“It means those imposing the increased risks on Australia’s plant industries are also making a fairer contribution towards the costs of surveillance, eradication and management of biosecurity.”