Media Release

Biosecurity response underway to timber pest detection

16 June 2014

The recent detection of timber pests in pallets imported to Australia shows the value of a strong biosecurity system and strong partnerships with industry, according to Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce.

Minister Joyce said the current response to the detection of timber pests on pallets associated with imports of gypsum plasterboard into Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth reinforced the complex and interconnected nature of biosecurity management.

"This detection in the packaging of a product – shipped in 337 containers from China – is a good example of Australia’s reliance on the best scientific advice to identify, and then respond to, biosecurity threats," Minister Joyce said.

"All but a very small number, in Adelaide, of potentially infested pallets have been ordered into quarantine and are being treated by fumigation.

"As an added precaution, the Department of Agriculture is calling on industry to report any suspect pallets that may have been inadvertently brought in by other importers to 1800 195 543."

The Asian longhorn beetle, the brown mulberry longhorn beetle and the Japanese sawyer beetle have all been detected and all have the potential to devastate Australia's hardwood, pine and horticultural industries as well as parklands and home gardens.

"Australia is very fortunate to be free from many pests and diseases found in other parts of the world that have harmed human health, agricultural industries, animals, plants, and the environment," Minister Joyce said.

"Working with our state and territory counterparts, international trading partners, Australian Government agencies, and affected industries to stamp out pests and diseases before they establish here helps protect Australia's growing agricultural exports, as well as our environment and our way of life.

"I am keenly aware of the many challenges there are in maintaining our biosecurity system, the specialised expertise on which we rely and the important role industry has to play in being our eyes and ears.

"With more than 782,000 containers arriving from China in 2013 I am looking forward to industry's cooperation in identifying whether there are any other pallets in Australia that pose a possible biosecurity threat.'