Joint media release: $2.8 million to strengthen biosecurity in the North

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator the Hon Murray Watt
NT Minister for Agribusiness and Fisheries, Hon Paul Kirby
QLD Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities, Hon Mark Furner
WA Minister  for Agriculture and Food, Hon Jackie Jarvis

Northern Australia will get another line of defence in the fight against plant pest and diseases, with more federal support for biosecurity in the region.

The Albanese Government will invest $2.8m to bolster biosecurity capability and create the Northern Australia Plant Capacity and Response Network (NAPCaRN) to better detect, prepare and respond to biosecurity threats, like black sigatoka, Asian citrus psyllid and citrus canker.

This will be coordinated by the Northern Territory Government, with support from the Queensland and Western Australian Governments.

The Network will invest in more frontline staff, including technical staff and interns in each northern jurisdiction.

Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt said threats from plants and pests were constantly evolving.

“There’s all sorts of ways pests and diseases can make their way in - on travellers, in parcels or even blown in on the wind. We have to make sure we detect these threats early to stop the spread, in order to protect our nation’s agricultural industry, natural environmental assets and lifestyle,” Minister Watt said.

“NAPCaRN will operate as an inter-jurisdictional plant biosecurity network to tackle plant biosecurity threats in partnership with industry and communities. The investment will integrate resources and actions of industry and four governments through the appointment of nine positions—significantly bolstering biosecurity risk management across the north.

“It will enhance our detection and response capacity in northern Australia. It will improve local biosecurity leadership and mentoring and strengthen partnerships with industry and First Nations people. And it will establish a recruitment pipeline for biosecurity agencies.” 

Today’s announcement builds on the ongoing biosecurity work already in action in Northern Australia, including:

  • $4 million Northern Australia Coordination Network established last October to improve surveillance and preparedness to foot and mouth disease (FMD) and lumpy skin disease (LSD).
  • Ongoing investment in the Indigenous Biosecurity Rangers Program, which provides vital surveillance needed for the early detection of biosecurity threats along the Northern Australian coastline.
  • Biosecurity Business Grants for Indigenous businesses, organisations or other organisations working with Indigenous people to support business opportunities relating to biosecurity activities for Northern Australia.

The NAPCaRN has been developed in partnership with the Northern Australia Biosecurity Strategy (NABS) Plant Technical Working Group which includes jurisdictional representatives from Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and Plant Health Australia.

Quotes attributable to Northern Territory Minister for Agribusiness and Fisheries, Paul Kirby:
“Our agriculture sector is one of the country’s most important, in terms of mass, production, economy and lifestyle, and ensuring that as a nation, we have the best protections in place is integral to our lifestyle and the future of the industry.

“The NAPCaRN collaboration is an important one for all Australians, as well as the Territory’s place on the national biosecurity front, in strengthening our relationships, knowledge and efforts in protecting our agricultural assets.

“NAPCaRN is about supporting our people and or stakeholders to build relationships, enhance skills and knowledge and create new and innovative approaches to protect our industries.

“NAPCaRN provides a platform for us to grow our local talent in government, industry and indigenous communities so we are better prepared and able to respond to new and existing pests.”

Attributable to Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner:
“We welcome these extra resources which will be crucial in strengthening Queensland’s frontline biosecurity defences.

“In the face of new and emerging biosecurity threats, it’s crucial that the Commonwealth and Queensland work together even more closely to protect our valuable agriculture sector.

“The extra funding and staff being provided through NAPCaRN complements the Palaszczuk Government’s own increased biosecurity investment, which includes an extra 15 new permanent jobs within Biosecurity Queensland.

“We’re also investing $21.7 million over 5 years, and $2.8 million each year thereafter, for action against current and emerging plant pests and diseases which is in addition to $22 million over 5 years , and $2.5 million each year thereafter, already announced to address increasing animal biosecurity risks.”

Attributable to WA Food and Agriculture Minister Jackie Jarvis:
“I welcome the Federal Government’s announcement of increased funding to boost biosecurity capabilities across Northern Australia, particularly given the ongoing threat of invasive foreign pests and diseases to the nation’s crucial agriculture industry.

“We look forward to working in collaboration with the Federal, Northern Territory and Queensland governments through NAPCaRN to tackle the ongoing and increasing biosecurity risks that Australia faces.”