In November 2020, the Plant Industry Forum, a Plant Health Australia (PHA) plant industry member group, agreed to form the Plant Industries Biosecurity Committee to build the collective representative capacity of plant industries in a formal structure from which to engage within Australia’s plant biosecurity system. This initiative was created and driven by Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA) along with support from PHA and several like-minded plant industry bodies.
The Plant Industries Biosecurity Committee is a skills-based committee consisting of a minimum five and maximum eight plant industry representatives, plus a PHA staff member (ex officio), tasked with identifying and prioritising plant biosecurity capacity and capability issues along the Australian biosecurity continuum with an emphasis on the domestic plant biosecurity system.
John McDonald, Greenlife Industry Australia’s (GIA) National Biosecurity Manager, has been elected Chair of the newly established Plant Industries Biosecurity Committee (Image: Greenlife Industry Australia)
Plant Industries Biosecurity Committee representatives have extensive experience along the plant biosecurity continuum, in both a domestic and national capacity, including through the participation and response to emergency plant pests, specific market access and trade exposure and general plant biosecurity policy interests.
The objectives of the Plant Industries Biosecurity Committee are based on bringing together plant industries with the collective view of advancing and improving the national domestic plant biosecurity system through:
A shared responsibility along the biosecurity continuum
Providing a collective plant industry voice into the domestic biosecurity system
Engaging the national Plant Health Committee to strive towards a harmonised, transparent and equitable biosecurity system
Encouraging risk-based decision making and delivery of appropriate outcomes by the committee’s/groups functioning within the plant biosecurity system
Market access based on the technical justification and least trade restrictive conditions and a commitment to business continuity
Focus industry and regulatory bodies on the commonality of purpose across Australia.
In May 2021, PHA assessed Expression of Interest responses from plant industry members to sit on the Plant Industries Biosecurity Committee and selected five representatives across horticulture including the following:
John McDonald, Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA), Chair
Anna Hooper, Australian Grape & Wine (AGW), Deputy Chair
Zarmeen Hassan, AUSVEG, Member
Rosalie Daniel, Apples & Pears Australia Ltd (APAL), Member
Rosie Godwin, Australian Banana Growers Council (ABGC), Member
Tanya Pittard , Policy Advisor, Ex-officio
Rod Turner, Plant Health Australia (PHA), Ex-officio
Kath DeBoer, Plant Health Australia (PHA, Secretariat
The driver to establish the Plant Industries Biosecurity Committee is based on the lack of a formal process in Australia in which plant industries may collectively, and formally, engage on plant biosecurity issues, concerns and opportunities with state and territory governments, and vice versa, operating under the current structures of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity.
State and Territory biosecurity agencies are the primary source and supplier of emergency plant pest (EPP) response resources and actions post border within Australia. Therefore, the domestic plant biosecurity system is a critical element of the Australian biosecurity continuum. Plant industries must have a collective voice within the domestic plant biosecurity system, at a technical and policy implementation and operational level, to promote industry/government partnerships and to advance the shared responsibility along the biosecurity continuum.
There are considerable benefits in establishing a formal government-industry governance and engagement arrangement, including, but not limited to:
It will provide a forum to discuss shared issues and to determine an agreed approach.
It provides an opportunity for industry and government to work in partnership to address agreed priorities.
It will provide the Plant Health Committee with early advice on any issues or concerns being experienced by industry.
It will provide a forum for the Plant Health Committee to seek industry views and perspectives on initiatives and vice versa.
It will provide a forum for both Committees to undertake active horizon scanning for the future.
It will enhance relationships between government and industry.
It will build on the national approach to shared responsibility by providing industry with the opportunity to formally engage with and partner with the Plant Health Committee.
On 27 July 2021, the Plant Industries Biosecurity Committee Chair John McDonald attended the 59th Plant Health Committee meeting to table the paper seeking to establish the formal links between PIBC and Plant Health Committee. In the paper, plant industries have identified a number of key policy areas requiring discussion with the Plant Health Committee including:
a. Capacity and capability along the biosecurity continuum
b. RD&E opportunities and gaps
c. Transparent dialogue between government and industry partnership
d. Approaches to incentivise, value, recognise, etc., grower adoption of high health practices
e. Harmonisation of legislation, movement conditions and compliance
f. National Pest Risk Analysis Framework agreed by jurisdictions
g. Implementation of a Pest Risk Analysis Network
h. Education, appointments, and supervision of biosecurity personnel
i. Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity outcomes
j. National plant biosecurity dispute resolution process.
The Plant Industries Biosecurity Committee will provide a conduit for the Plant Industries Forum to engage and contribute to the Australian domestic plant biosecurity system with the Committee operating under the Forum and PHA.