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Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Page: 3048

Mr LITTLEPROUD (MaranoaMinister for Agriculture and Water Resources) (11:31): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

Australia's biosecurity system is critical for the protection of our agricultural industries, human health, the environment and the broader economy.

Our biosecurity system is critical for the protection of our unique environment, our lifestyle, our health and of course our agriculture industries.

The Biosecurity Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2018will help in our continuous fight to manage biosecurity risks, and further strengthen Australia's already enviable biosecurity status.

The biosecurity system must deal with a broad range of risks posed by the possibility of pests and diseases entering and establishing in Australia. It is essential that we continue to maintain and improve our biosecurity legislation to enable us to manage these threats.

The volume of goods and people entering Australia is projected to almost double between now and 2025. It is essential that our biosecurity system keeps pace with the risks posed by these increased movements.

We are continually bringing about incremental and real improvements to our risk management arrangements. It is vital that we continue to invest in our biosecurity system.

In this vein, the coalition government has delivered up to $200 million over four years to strengthen Australia's biosecurity system through the Agricultural competitiveness white paper, on top of an additional $100 million to fight pests and weeds.

Since 2013, the coalition has increased biosecurity investment by over 29 per cent, totaling $783.2 million this financial year.

Along with the increased traffic at our borders, one of the key challenges we face in the effective management of biosecurity risk is difficulty collecting the necessary information we need about goods after they have entered the country.

This can occur particularly when a good is imported, and later in time importation of that same good is suspended or prohibited based on an updated biosecurity risk assessment.

This occurred in January 2017 with the suspension of uncooked prawns.

This bill aims to address this difficulty by providing information gathering powers that allow for faster and more accurate identification of 'at risk' goods.

These powers will enable the director of biosecurity or the director of human biosecurity to issue a general requirement for persons in possession of goods (such as uncooked prawns) that have been released from biosecurity control to provide information to the relevant director about the goods (such as their current location).

Having this information would then enable a 'secure' direction to be issued regarding the goods, which can prevent their further movement and will support targeted operational responses to control biosecurity risks.

It also addresses recommendation 2 of the Senate committee reporting on biosecurity risks associated with imported seafood, including uncooked prawns.

When used with existing powers in the Biosecurity Act, the new information gathering powers contribute to a more robust biosecurity system.

Further, this bill will allow for the gathering of information about goods imported into Australia that may have breached import conditions, so that the department can assess and where required manage biosecurity risk.

The bill also enhances our ability to update alternative import conditions quickly and easily in response to changes in biosecurity risk.

Here in Australia we are vulnerable to a huge range of pests and diseases entering our country.

With these risks continuously changing and evolving it is essential that our legislation enables us to rapidly respond to these changes.

Enhancing Australia's biosecurity system gives us the best chance of keeping damaging pests and diseases from establishing on our shores.

It is up to all of us to respect our biosecurity laws so we can continue to enjoy our unique environment, our agricultural industries, our health and our way of life and continue to be justifiably proud of our biosecurity system.

Debate adjourned.