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Nursery & Garden Industry Australia:

"Greater biosecurity harmonisation will help protect nursery industry"

The detection of 15 emergency plant pests in Australia in 2017 has placed even clearer focus on the need for the harmonisation of biosecurity measures across plant producers in all states and territories to protect the nation’s valuable nursery industry.

The sector underpins more than $15 billion in national food, fibre and foliage plant production including urban landscape and retail through to fruit, vegetable, forestry and revegetation. It is one of the most heavily invested industries in Australia’s national domestic biosecurity system.

While the bulk of pest incursions in 2017 were of low to negligible impact, the detection of Tomato Potato Psyllid (TPP) in February 2017 seriously affected a wide section of the industry in Western Australia, including seedling producers, high value grafted tomato production and ornamental plant production.

National biosecurity manager for Nursery & Garden Industry Australia (NGIA), John McDonald, presenting at the National Biosecurity Roundtable in Canberra recently, said streamlining the national domestic biosecurity system would improve business profitability and sustainability, while delivering efficiencies across agencies.

“These gains would be made by reducing the loss of markets and inability to access and supply new genetic material, while also decreasing the labour costs associated with managing market access compliance,” Mr McDonald said.

“There’s also considerable industry confusion in interpreting legal obligations during and after an incursion, and we risk eroding industry belief in, and support for, our biosecurity systems if we don’t address these key criteria.”

Other key risks for industry associated with not better harmonising biosecurity measures include:
  • Reduced access to new and improved plant products
  • Lack of participation by industry in national initiatives such as pest surveillance
  • New genetic material not being traded across all jurisdictions therefore limiting productivity gains in certain sectors
  • Producers not complying with biosecurity measures due to complexity and cost.
Mr McDonald said a national domestic pest risk analysis framework, together with standardised documents such as plant health and biosecurity certificates, uniform administrative requirements for labelling, packing and consignment information, electronic certification and agreed definitions for all movement control terminology would take important first steps towards harmonisation and would provide true red tape reduction.

The nursery industry is continuing to advance its levy - funded National nursery industry biosecurity program (NY15004) with five states – Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia – all providing the legal mechanisms to allow BioSecure HACCP to operate with in their jurisdictions. The Northern Territory and WA are in the process of providing the legal instruments.

Mr McDonald said this was an outstanding example of biosecurity agencies across Australia working constructively, and in partnership, with industry to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.

“Our aim is to ensure that production nurseries in Australia have access to an on-farm biosecurity program, that they’re aware of and prepared for incursions of exotic plant pests, and that they have effective market access mechanisms in place to maintain business functionality,” he said.

“Ultimately our domestic biosecurity system is there to ensure our growers can minimise their biosecurity risks and impacts through the least trade restrictive protocols possible that are technically sound and economically feasible.”

For more information:
Nursery & Garden Industry Australia
Kobie Keenan
(02) 8861 5100

Publication date: 12/22/2017



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