Member for Moore Shane Love MLA has welcomed the State Government’s move to review Western Australia’s biosecurity response capabilities with a focus on resolving market access issues.
Mr Love said that as a primary producer, he had in the past a great sense of unease regarding the way successive Liberal Ministers dealt with biosecurity matters.
“There have been recent instances involving the Tomato Potato Psyllid, Cucumber Green Mottle Mosaic Virus and the potato bacterium Dickeya dianthicola that have adversely affected my electorate,” Mr Love said.
“I was not confident the former Department of Agriculture and Food had adequate resources and processes in place to respond to such pests and diseases.”
Mr Love said the release of the WA Biosecurity Strategy in November 2016 was a result of the National’s Royalties for Regions funded $20 million Boosting Biosecurity Defences program, a vital element of the National’s Seizing the Opportunity Agriculture initiative.
A key goal of the strategy was to develop more effective preparedness and capacity to detect, respond and recover from new incursions.
“Our agricultural and horticultural sectors are heavily dependent on export markets and maintaining market access through stringent protocols is vital to the future of food production in WA,” Mr Love added.
“In the unfortunate event that there is an incident, the government needs to invest accordingly so that industry has the tools to react and can control the pest or pathogen, enabling growers to re-enter the market as quickly as possible.”
Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan commissioned the Biosecurity Council of Western Australia to assess the effectiveness of the then-Department of Agriculture and Food’s response to secure market access for produce following the discovery of the tomato potato psyllid in WA in February 2017.
The Biosecurity Council report found areas needing improvement within the new Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development related to response structure, staffing, industry collaboration and handling national complexities.
The Minister has directed the department to form an implementation working group to review the report’s 11 recommendations, with the group to report back to the Biosecurity Council in the next three months.
A summary report is available at http://www.agric.wa.gov.au/bam/biosecurity-council-reports