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Strengthening Australia's biosecurity through science and technology

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SENATOR THE HON KIM CARR Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Minister for Higher Education


25 July 2013

Strengthening Australia’s biosecurity through science and technology

Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr today launched the CSIRO Biosecurity Flagship, which will help protect the Australian environment, agricultural industries, and people from biological threats.

“Historically, Australia’s geographic isolation has spared us from some of the most serious impacts of exotic pests and diseases that circulate around the world,” Senator Kim Carr said.

“However we can’t afford to be complacent. Having a strong biosecurity system backed by world-class science and research is increasingly important as our connection to the rest of the world grows through trade and people.

“Diseases, weeds, invasive animals and insects can devastate our crops, livestock and farm profits, our unique environment and occasionally human health - and they don’t respect borders.

“The new Biosecurity Flagship brings a national perspective and focus on the science needed to tackle these major biosecurity challenges that are facing our country.”

Through a proud history of biosecurity research, the CSIRO has already had a profound impact on Australia’s biosecurity status, including through the recent development of an equine Hendra virus vaccine and delivery of a biological control for one of the world’s most invasive pests - the silverleaf whitefly.

The Flagship builds on these successes, using scale and networks to help prepare for and prevent the spread and impacts of pests and diseases.

With an annual budget of $30 million from the Australian Government and stakeholders, the Flagship will draw on the expertise of around 200 CSIRO researchers based across Australia, and work with more than 20 national and international partner organisations.

Biosecurity is a system of shared responsibility across layers of government, which needs a statistically sound understanding of risk, pathways of entry, optimised surveillance and rapid diagnosis.

“Improved coordination of biosecurity research in Australia will enable us to better protect public health, the environment and the economy into the future.

“It will also greatly assist other countries as they too strive to deal with the pests and diseases that continue to spread globally and threaten general health,” Senator Kim Carr said.

Media Contact: Fiona Bastian 0427 092 100