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Biosecurity New Zealand recently shared an Aotearoa New Zealand perspective with its Australian counterparts


06 July 2023

From Stuart Anderson, Deputy Director-General, Biosecurity New Zealand

In April, I was fortunate to go to Canberra and speak at the Australian National Biosecurity Forum which brings together key stakeholders to discuss challenges, opportunities and innovative approaches for protecting Australia’s biosecurity system.

The Forum focused on the need for stronger partnerships and a shared biosecurity culture, the identification of new opportunities and challenges, natural pathways and invasive species, and integration supported by technology, research and data.
New Zealand enjoys a strong and cooperative relationship with Australia on biosecurity matters. This is incredibly important to both nations as we strive to protect our economies and our natural environments from harmful pests and diseases, amidst growing challenges.

I personally found the focus on partnerships between industry and government useful, with some great discussions on how to give effect to this and get everyone signed up to collective action. Examples of these include the lines of deeds such as our GIA approach and also strategic partnerships such as our key role with the Biosecurity Business Pledge.

All stakeholders present stressed the importance for doing more to ensure the public understands what biosecurity is, and why it is so important. Climate change and its inherent biosecurity implications for primary industries and the natural environment was highlighted as a major challenge in the years to come. There was a lot of interest in what we are doing over here, and lots of opportunity for ongoing collaboration.

I was part of a panel discussing “Biosecurity before the Australian border” with Tina Hutchison, the First Assistant Secretary for the Biosecurity Operations Division at Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and Sal Milici, General Manager of Trade Policy and Operations, Freight & Trade Alliance, and the Australian Peak Shippers Association.

I shared examples of how government and industry engage on biosecurity issues here in Aotearoa New Zealand, such as with our international importers as we develop new import health standards, and with cruise ship operators and hull cleaning service providers on recent biofouling issues. There was strong interest in our approach, and also in our new performance-based verification programme for transitional facilities.

I shared some of our recent public awareness campaigns aimed at driving behaviour change, like the ‘Clean Vessel’ and ‘National Wilding Conifer’ control programmes. There was a lot of interest in the Biosecurity Business Pledge, with many people talking to me afterwards about how successful this has been and what a great example it is of industry taking the lead and working closely with government.

We will always work closely with Australia on our shared issues to advance the protection of both countries. Recently, we collaborated on our preparedness and planning for a potential foot and mouth disease outbreak. We are also partnering to develop a series of automated threat detect algorithms in 3D X-Ray imagery on the border, an advancement all of us will be pleased to see in place.

For more information on the Forum, including links to videos of the sessions, visit the DAFF website.