The Australian Greens today announced a new national independent biosecurity authority that will give greater protection against pests and diseases that are threatening Australia's agricultural sector and environment.
Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne made the announcement this morning at the 2013 Banana Industry Congress on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
"The increase in the global movement of people and goods, together with the onset of climate change, means Australia has to increase efforts to protect its borders from pests and diseases," Senator Milne said.
"Australia must fiercely protect its disease free status and the health of our native plants, animals and agricultural industry. Biosecurity is to the environment and the food industry what defence is to the nation.
"In the past few years we've seen myrtle rust and the Asian honey bee get through our biosecurity shield infecting native plants and threatening agriculture.
"At the same time, Labor has given the go ahead for imports of pineapples from Malaysia which potentially carry heart rot and Fijian ginger with its burrowing nematode, and is considering allowing in potatoes from New Zealand which carry the pest insect the tomato-potato psyllid.
"That's why there is a high level of distrust and dissatisfaction with current biosecurity measures and it's why the Greens are proposing a new independent approach which values the expertise in this area and focuses on the science.
"This structure to protect Australia's biosecurity was recommended by Roger Beale in 2008 in his review of the nation's biosecurity. Labor said it would implement his recommendations and it never did.
"The Greens are now moving to implement the key findings of the Beale Review including:
- An independent biosecurity authority that will be supported by a National Biosecurity Commission which will include a panel of biosecurity experts who would decide how to protect Australia from new pests and diseases; and
- A National Biosecurity Authority that would have the day-to-day management responsibilities and advise the Commission.
"The new regime would cost $5-10 million annually, on top of money redirected from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry that is currently being used for biosecurity outcomes."
Queensland Greens Senate candidate Adam Stone said native vegetation and agriculture needed the additional investment.
"People come from all over the world to see the Australian bush and our animals, we don't want to see that devastated by introduced pests and diseases," Mr Stone said.
"Our horticultural sector alone is worth about $10 billion, it's just far too valuable to risk."
Read more in our Biosecurity Authority initiative.