AGRICULTURE minister Bridget McKenzie has announced the establishment of a new body Biosecurity Futures to provide industry intelligence, advice and ideas on biosecurity.

The creation of such a body was one of the recommendations of the Biosecurity Imports Levy Industry Steering Committee earlier in the year.

However the announcement has already caused controversy, with suggestions shipping has been overlooked in the composition of the new entity.

The eight initial members who have agreed to participate are:

  • Paul Zalai, Freight and Trade Alliance
  • Margo Andrae, Australian Pork Limited
  • Stephen Annells, Fertilizer Australia
  • Carolyn McGill, Food and Beverage Importers Association
  • Jane Lovell, Seafood Industry Australia
  • Tania Constable, Mineral Council of Australia
  • Tony Mahar, National Farmers’ Federation
  • Margy Osmond, Tourism and Transport Forum.

In a Tweet, Shipping Australia described the omission of a shipping body from the group as “a glaring omission as 98% of Aus (sic) trade goes by sea”.

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“It undermines this otherwise positive initiative recommended by the expert panel,” Shipping Australia stated.

Agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie

In press release, Senator McKenzie said their biosecurity system underpinned “our international reputation as an exporter of safe, quality and sustainable food and fibre”.

“Our global customers seek Australian products because we don’t have the destructive pests and diseases found in other parts of the world that can have such an impact on yield and nutrition,” she said.

Senator McKenzie said close cooperation between government and industry was essential if they were to stay a step ahead of global threats like African swine fever.

“This group was one of the eight recommendations put forward to me by the Biosecurity Imports Levy Industry Steering Committee in June this year,” she said.

The Biosecurity Futures group is to be chaired by the minister and meet twice a year, or as needed.

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