Media Release

Response effort to exotic beetle detection on track

4 July 2014

The response effort to manage a recent detection of exotic beetles imported in pallets to Australia is continuing and on track.

Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce, said the scale of the response efforts – including the coordination of scientific advice, as well as the scheduling and delivery of treatment, inspection and surveillance activities – showed the complexity of biosecurity incidents.

“The Department of Agriculture has been working with the importers, warehouse owners, fumigation providers, state governments, and domestic industries to stamp out the detection,” Minister Joyce said.

“We know that 337 containers of building supplies were imported to Australia and that some of them contained pallets with beetle infestation.

“The beetles – the Asian longhorn beetle, the brown mulberry longhorn beetle and the Japanese sawyer beetle – together pose a significant threat to our forestry and horticulture industries and to our natural environment and gardens.

“I am glad to see the good progress that is being made in managing this detection – and most importantly, I am pleased to note that no live beetles have been detected since 11 June.

“To make sure the response remains on track my department is checking and rechecking to find out if suspect pallets are being used to transport other goods to Australia.”

Since the Department of Agriculture detected these beetles:

  • surveillance and trapping at sites where the pallets are contained has continued and no live beetles have been found
  • all suspect pallets in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide have been fumigated and work is underway by the importers to destroy the pallets or re-export them under guidance from the Department of Agriculture
  • profiling and analysis is identifying other at-risk cargo for assessment and inspection; and
  • face-to-face surveys targeting large importers of wooden pallets from China is ongoing. 

“I commend the approach taken by the importers to play their part in managing Australia’s biosecurity status which underpins our way of life,” Minister Joyce said.

“Incidents like this give us important information to guide where we focus our attention and the efforts of our biosecurity officers – off shore, at the border and across the nation.”