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Biosecurity Bulletin - February 2013
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In January the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) welcomed its new Secretary – Andrew Metcalf AO.
Andrew, who has come to DAFF from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship where he was the Secretary for more than seven years, has a strong personal agricultural background and a long career in public administration.
Continue reading the message from the deputy secretary
As the new Secretary to DAFF, Andrew has emphasised his commitment to continuing to grow DAFF as a modern service delivery organisation that supports industry, government and individuals.
The changes that DAFF has been delivering as part of its National Service Delivery reform has already enhanced our regulatory practices and policies – making them simpler, more transparent and business friendly.
We are working more closely than ever with business and stakeholders to understand their imperatives and how we can better facilitate trade and provide a regulatory environment that allows Australian industries to be competitive in international markets.
Examples of the many ways that DAFF is working to help business be successful in their importing and exporting processes, can be seen in some of the stories in this month’s Biosecurity Bulletin. For example, DAFF’s Plant Export Program is putting the finishing touches on a new exports guide to help make the business of exporting plant and plant products easier, and the Operational Science Program is providing training to people in the sea and air freight industries to help them spot pests and diseases.
There is also stakeholder consultation with industry as we continue to develop our new PEQ facility and, of course, some interesting detections made by our biosecurity officers in the Border Finds segment.
Finally, you can learn more about our new Secretary.
Step-by-step guide to help plant exporters
Exporting plants and plant products out of Australia will be made easier with a new exporters’ guide for plant and plant products.
The guide, which will be released by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) in March 2013, provides step-by-step instructions for exporters to help them meet export requirements for their plants and plant products. It also offers advice on how to reduce the costs of exporting.
Continue reading about the step-by-step guide to help plant exporters
Plant Export Operations Branch, Assistant Secretary, Kylie Calhoun said the new guide also outlined the roles and responsibilities of the exporter and DAFF.
“We hope businesses find the guide useful, and that it will make the exporting process smoother so their products arrive at their overseas market without any hitches or additional costs.”
Ms Calhoun said there were six steps to getting plant and plant products to their overseas market.
“Meeting importing country requirements is one of the most important steps, and is the responsibility of the exporter,” Ms Calhoun said.
“If your exports don’t meet the importing country’s requirements, they will not be issued with the phytosanitary certificate, which is required before they leave Australia.”
Plant and plant products that are refused entry may be destroyed or sent back to Australia at the exporter’s expense. Breaches of this kind can also damage Australia's international reputation with our major trading partners and affect future export opportunities.
Exporters can search for their plants or plant products on the Manual of Importing Country Requirements (MICOR) Plants database, and use this as a guide to importing country requirements.Exporting plants and plant products: A step-by-step guide for Australian exporters will be available on the DAFF website in March.
Partnering with industry for better compliance
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) is continuing to improve the way it works in partnership with the import cargo and shipping industry to strengthen Australia’s biosecurity system.
It is a key part of how we do business.
But more than that, by working with stakeholders and understanding the needs of industry, we help importers to understand their biosecurity requirements and be compliant.
Continue reading about partnering with industry for better compliance
And this allows DAFF to focus on the areas that pose the greatest risk.
First Assistant Secretary Border Compliance Division, Mr Tim Chapman, said that DAFF used a comprehensive risk-based approach to ensure that resources and efforts were deployed to the goods and people of highest risk.
“We want to focus our efforts on the things that matter most, and a risk-based approach to assessment allows us to do this,” Mr Chapman said.
“A key part of this risk-based approach is working in partnership with industry to achieve risk management offshore, onshore and at the border.
“Risk assessments are based on robust and contemporary science and a range of factors such as the goods, the pathway into Australia as well as stakeholder history.
“This allows appropriate recognition and reward for good biosecurity compliance, such as reduced intervention.”
There are other ways that DAFF is working to improve compliance and processes. In addition to compliance education, DAFF is developing new IT systems such as BICON and electronic certification.
“These systems will help industry to more easily comply with our requirements by making information about importing requirements more accessible," Mr Chapman said.
The development of government to government certification means that certificates will be transferred securely reducing the opportunity for fraudulent activity.
A network of biosecurity managers has been established to coordinate and improve engagement with stakeholders. Local issues are responded to more quickly and with national support where needed. Please contact your regional DAFF office if you wish to meet with your local biosecurity manager.
Helping the cargo industry to play its part
A key part of Australia’s successful biosecurity system is shared responsibility.
Together industry and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) not only help to safeguard Australia’s biosecurity integrity but to make the importing process successful and consistent.
Helping industry to play their part is DAFF’s Operational Science Program (OSP).
Continue reading about helping the cargo industry to play its part
OSP is an Australia-wide network of operational scientists, including entomologists and plant pathologists, that not only identifies pests and diseases but trains DAFF’s inspection staff.
To maximise the skills of our industry partners, the OSP has developed short training courses for workers in the sea and air freight industries to show how they can contribute to Australia’s biosecurity.
The training, which includes a presentation and accompanying practical material, introduces the common major exotic pests and diseases that are sometimes found.
Tailored to the particular industry group – be it stevedores, or sea and air cargo depot staff – the training raises awareness of the importance of the major pests and diseases associated with imported sea freight, how to spot them and what to do.
Industry also benefits from staff being skilled in this field – an early detection and intervention can save an importer thousands.
The training courses run by OSP have already had some great outcomes with some serious pests being reported by our industry partners and allowing DAFF to respond rapidly. Examples include:
- detections of Giant African Snail (GAS) on shipping containers and on wash pads at Quarantine Approved Premises
- detections of auger beetles (timber pests) in timber packaging during an unpack by depot staff
- the detection of dwarf honey bees on imported new cars by stevedores.
If you are interested in the OSP training courses for industry email air and sea cargo.
Stakeholder’s contributions key to new post entry quarantine facility
Plans for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s (DAFF) new consolidated post entry quarantine (PEQ) facility are progressing well with input from industry and stakeholders making important contributions to the development of the facility.
Continue reading about stakeholder’s contributions key to new post entry quarantine facility
Dr Colin Grant, former First Assistant Secretary of DAFF’s Plant Division and previous Chief Executive Officer of Biosecurity Australia, has been appointed to lead all the project work for the new PEQ - including stakeholder engagement.
The new facility will replace DAFF’s five current post entry quarantine stations with a sustainable, reliable facility comprising individual species compounds that adopt modern technology and operating practices.
It will embrace ecologically sustainable development principles, including whole-of-life decision-making in design, construction and operation, and will comply with Commonwealth energy and water conservation policies.
The single facility will support greater efficiencies in operations, consolidation of staff expertise and a reduction in whole-of-life costs to government. A single site allows for greater levels of systems backup to be provided at lower cost and a much lower risk to the build and delivery of the facility.
Detailed design work has continued during the past 12 months to confirm the size, structure and layout of the new individual species compounds before construction begins. In addition to this, transition planning is well underway and a detailed transition framework has been developed by specialist consultants.
A critical step in the delivery of the PEQ was achieved in January with the project being approved by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPaC).
The next step is approval from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works Committee (PWC) which must approve all public building projects. The PWC will hold a public hearing on the project in Melbourne on 27 March 2013.
An explanation of the PWC hearing process, and information on how interested parties can make a submission, is on the Parliament House website.
DAFF will conduct a further round of stakeholder briefings in early March to allow it to provide stakeholders with further detail on how the overall concept design has evolved to date and how the PWC process will proceed.
Animal welfare - animal friendly, business friendly
Australian livestock producers have said for generations that good animal welfare is good business practice.
This was recognised eight years ago when the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (the AAWS) was established by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), to create a more consistent and effective animal welfare approach involving the Australian, State and Territory Governments, industry and the community.
Continue reading about animal welfare - animal friendly, business friendly
The AAWS brings together 140 participants, including animal rights groups, and provides the platform for respectful sharing of views and working together to deliver agreed high-level national goals.
And facilitating this, and the delivery of vital animal welfare information, is the new AAWS website.
Director of the Strategy, Dr Peter Thornber said the push for more consistent animal welfare practices across Australia’s livestock industries and other animal sectors had seen an increasing need for a central and focussed point of reference, contact and communication on all matters to do with animal welfare.
“As Australia is making a greater effort to improve animal welfare practices and awareness here and around the world, the new website is very timely,” Dr Thornber said.
“The amount of information on animal welfare standards and codes across Australia is complex and voluminous, so the new website will become the definitive one-stop shop for this information along with other animal welfare resources.
“We still have a way to go and our website may be just one source of information, yet the AAWS continues to provide a national platform for engagement.
“Meaningful discussion with all key stakeholders and representative groups under the AAWS drives animal welfare improvements and positions livestock industries and other sectors for future change.”
The upgraded website - Australian Animal Welfare Strategy – is designed to make a vast store of information much more easily accessible.
The Border Finds stories are drawn from the work of the Operational Science Program (OSP) within DAFF.
OSP has entomologists and plant pathologists across Australia who work to identify pests and diseases detected by frontline biosecurity officers and provide practical advice and training.
Read all about the interesting discoveries this month.
Roast bat and rat
Officers at Melbourne airport made some unusual discoveries in two separate passenger declarations of food. While inspecting some food carried by a passenger arriving from Indonesia, a biosecurity officer discovered 400 grams of cooked bat meat. The passenger had declared the meat which is a banquet favourite in Indonesia. The item was seized and destroyed as non-commercial meat products.
Also at Melbourne airport a passenger arriving on a flight from Myanmar declared cooked foods which turned out to be roasted rat. In some cultures rats are essential to the traditional diet and can be considered as an exotic delicacy. The rodents were seized and destroyed and the passenger given some information on biosecurity requirements.
Importations of these kinds of products could introduce serious exotic animal and human diseases. While the biosecurity risks for rats and bats have not been assessed, both are known carriers of exotic animal and human pathogens. Cooking may reduce the biosecurity risks, however the times and temperatures associated with the cooking process was, in these cases, unknown.
A bundle of giant seed pods from Mozambique was intercepted by a biosecurity officer in Brisbane. Found in personal effects in air cargo, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry identified the pods as a type of sea bean – an Entada species. Although the pods carried no insects or diseases, some species are prohibited and, without an import permit, the giant pods had to be destroyed. Seed pods such as these are popular as souvenirs or decorations, and these types of detections and identifications play a crucial part in maintaining Australia’s biosecurity and reducing the risk of exotic pests and diseases from entering Australia.
Meanwhile, the work officers are conducting at the border is being supported through social media.
With the increase in detections of insects at Australia’s border, DAFF has jumped into the online world to increase awareness of Australia’s import conditions.
DAFF Senior Entomologist, Bill Crowe is a Director with DAFF’s Operational Science Program who is working to educate the insect collector community about import conditions and the biosecurity risks involved with bringing exotic insects into Australia.
As a qualified DAFF entomologist, Bill is fully aware of the damage that exotic pests can cause to Australia’s natural environment, in particular to Australia’s delicate ecosystem and native wildlife. His online work has been well received by the insect community seeking clarification on insect imports to ensure they are not putting Australia at risk.
27 Feb 2013