DURING a visit to Queensland last week, minister for agriculture David Littleproud discussed his government’s investment in biosecurity, and the MarinePestPlan 2018-2023.
In the latest budget, the government has allocated $313m in new spending over five years, bringing the total funding for biosecurity in the current financial year to $773.2 million.
Mr Littleproud said marine pests were great hitchhikers and could get into Australia by catching a ride on ships or other vessels coming into Australia, big or small.
“The […] investment includes $25.2m in smart new technology, including potential use of underwater drones to check for pests on the underside of ships,” he said.
“We have also set aside $35m as a contingency funding, ready to go if we do face an incursion we need to stamp out.”
The government has allocated more than $2m through the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper to improve diagnostics and surveillance for marine pests in Australia with $1m of this funding invested to improve the capacity and capability of aquatic biosecurity surveillance across northern Australia.
MarinePestPlan 2018-2023 looks at different ways pests make it to Australian shores, such as ballast water from ships, to ensure effective regulation. The Plan can be found at www.marinepests.gov.au.
Speaking from Central Queensland University (CQU) along with Mr Littleproud, member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd said working with industry and other experts was a key part of strengthening pest and disease defences.
“It is great to be able to show the Minister the great work CQU is doing around biosecurity pest monitoring,” he said.
“The uni holds the second largest marine sample collection in Australia which is used to see changes in marine environment and pest incursions.
“Exotic underwater pests we want to keep out include the invasive Asian green mussel that can heavily foul man-made structures in ports after arriving by boat, as well as out-competing native species.”
MarinePestPlan 2018–2023 was developed jointly by the Australian Government, state and territory governments, industry, research organisations, and non-government organisations.