Biosecurity incursions are one of Queensland agriculture’s greatest business risks with exotic pests, diseases and weeds having a potentially crippling impact on both plant and animal production systems and animal health and wellbeing across the state. While Australia’s island status limits the risks from exotic pests and diseases, it does not eliminate them the threat altogether with more than 350,000 items of biosecurity concern intercepted across the country in 2018. As the movement of people and goods around the globe increases, accompanying by a changing climate, the number of biosecurity incursions is unfortunately increasing. While recent isolated rainfall and storms across the state have also encouraged the emergence of summer weeds that not only remove valuable soil moisture and nutrients, but also act as hosts for pests and diseases in crops.
However, biosecurity incursions from further afield are not the agriculture sector’s only concern as many Queensland farmers face threats from our own shores. The Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) has been made aware of various incidences of Queensland Government officers from various departments entering onto farmland without observing their General Biosecurity Obligation (GBO). This GBO requires individuals and organisations whose activities pose a biosecurity risk have a legal responsibility to manage them and take all reasonable steps to ensure that they do not spread a pest, disease or contaminant.
Despite receiving assurances in the past that Biosecurity Queensland undertakes ongoing training with other government departments to ensure the GBO is embedded within government as well as industry, QFF has again written to the state government to raise our concerns and we look forward to an appropriate response.
A successful biosecurity system requires scientists, government, industry, and the community to cooperate. It is a system of shared responsibility and it is imperative that we all adhere to biosecurity requirements both on-farm and, in general, and report suspected breaches to Biosecurity Queensland immediately. With the number of biosecurity interceptions showing no sign of reducing, we must maintain vigilance and continue to remind everyone that they have a GBO and a role to play.