The Queensland Government released an independent review of Queensland’s biosecurity capability and its interim response to 32 recommendations to protect the state from plant and animal diseases, feral animals and pest weeds.
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Leanne Donaldson said the review was an election commitment in response to unprecedented cuts to Queensland’s biosecurity capability by the previous LNP government.
“The review makes 32 recommendations, the majority based on well-known and agreed gaps within the biosecurity system,” Minister Donaldson said.
“The Government supports the majority of the recommendations in principle and the publication marks the start of a consultation process with stakeholders on the review panel’s findings.”
Minister Donaldson said the report was effectively a road map to guide Biosecurity Queensland and stakeholders towards creating Australia’s leading biosecurity agency and system.
“The report’s recommendations address Biosecurity Queensland’s immediate capability gaps,” the Minister said.
“They also focus on how the community and all levels of government can accept a proportionate share of responsibility for managing the risks.
“Some of the recommendations are bold and to achieve progress there will have to be close co-operation between the government and relevant stakeholders.
“The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries will undertake a consultation program with stakeholders including detailed discussions on programs and funding challenges presented by the report.
“The Government commissioned the review because it is serious about safeguarding our communities and protecting our environment.
“To do this we need the best biosecurity, but the previous administration cut the Biosecurity Queensland workforce by 26%, closed facilities and cut funding for endemic pest management and research.
“The independent panel recognises that biosecurity risk in Queensland is increasing and the report is an opportunity to introduce real improvements to the system.”
Minister Donaldson said that in response to the report, the Government had asked Biosecurity Queensland to undertake a skills audit and develop a training plan to boost its capabilities.
“Work will also commence on the development of a five year Queensland Biosecurity Strategy and Action Plan to deliver a best-practice biosecurity system.
“The Government has agreed to skill-up Biosecurity Queensland staff in a range of business skills and to create a unit to review and decide upon biosecurity investments.
“It’s important that we get the system right, so we will be giving careful consideration to long-term solutions,” the Minister said.
“We will be meeting with stakeholders and taking submissions on what should be prioritised according to impact, greatest need and budget.
“I thank the panel and everyone who contributed to the review. Biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility.”