Environment and agricultural organisations have joined forces to urge the Australian Government to address serious shortcomings in the Biosecurity Bill currently before the Senate.
President of the Invasive Species Council Andrew Cox, who will be appearing before the Rural and Regional Affairs Senate Legislative Committee inquiry into the Bill today, said the fundamentals of what constitutes a good biosecurity system are the same for agriculture and biodiversity.
“The Biosecurity Bill is a chance to reset Australia’s biosecurity on a more sound footing. In its current form the bill is falling short for the natural environment, primary industry and the community.
“Strong environmental biosecurity is critical to maintaining the health of Australia’s unique environment. We want to avoid the recent quarantine failures that have seen the establishment of the pathogen myrtle rust across Eastern Australia and multiple infestations of yellow crazy ants in Queensland.
“The Invasive Species Council found agreement to work with industry groups easy because we all felt that the government was not treating our concerns seriously,” he said.
“Fundamental principles the groups agreed to were that biosecurity should be administered by an independent structure and that decisions must be made transparently and on a scientific basis.
“We welcome the Senate committee’s decision earlier in the week to extend the time for hearings. This indicates a willingness to thoroughly consider the issues and properly hear from those who made submissions, most that have been highly critical of the Bill.”
The Invasive Species Council is working with a range of stakeholders on the Biosecurity Bill, including AusVeg, Growcom, NSW Farmers, Fruit Growers Tasmania, Nursery and Garden Industry and Australian Chicken Meat Federation.
Andrew Cox can be contacted on 0438 588 040