Joint media release: Trans-Tasman agriculture ministers discuss biosecurity co-operation

12 August 2022

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator the Hon Murray Watt
New Zealand Minister of Agriculture, Biosecurity, and Rural Communities, the Hon Damien O'Connor


Biosecurity co-operation topped the agenda when Australia and New Zealand’s agriculture ministers met yesterday. 

Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Senator Murray Watt met with his New Zealand counterpart, Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture, Biosecurity, and Rural Communities in a conference call, which had particular focus on foot and mouth disease (FMD).

Minister Watt said biosecurity is a central component of Australia’s close and productive relationship with New Zealand amid a range of common risks, especially the FMD outbreak in Indonesia. 

“Minister O’Connor and I had a very good meeting and reaffirmed our commitment to maintaining stringent arrangements to protect our countries’ respective biosecurity status’,” Minister Watt said.

“We discussed ongoing work by senior biosecurity officials to harmonise approaches where possible, primarily focusing on how we are managing the risks of FMD. 

“Both countries are signatories to the International Animal Health Emergency Reserve, which would afford us additional human resources in the event of an emergency animal disease outbreak, allowing for faster control and increased chances of eradication.”

Minister O’Connor said greater cooperation was integral to reducing biosecurity risks in our region as threats from FMD and fruit fly loomed over Australasia. 

“I am very pleased to have discussed joint efforts to strengthen preparedness and response capabilities with Minister Watt today and evolve our biosecurity interventions, so we stay in step with each other” Minister O’Connor said. 

“Since 2018, Australia and New Zealand have collaborated on developing world first digital technology as part of the Trans-Tasman cooperation on biosecurity risk detection.

“We continue to work together on a range of biosecurity initiatives, such as increasing our intelligence capacity to ensure our biosecurity systems are world’s best.”