A new $371 million biosecurity package is designed to bolster the nation’s ability to keep out diseases such as African swine fever, khapra beetle, and foot and mouth disease, and to better prepare for any outbreaks.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said stepping up biosecurity measures is about more than just protecting borders.
“Protecting our borders is as much about protecting our livestock, crops and environment from diseases that have the potential to devastate them and the livelihoods they support, as it does the health of Australians during COVID-19 or protecting Australia’s national security,” he said.
“This investment is about building a protective ring around Australia to safeguard our industry as well as the rural and regional communities that depend on it.
“There will never be zero risk but we are committed to reducing the risk where possible.”
Agriculture is at the forefront of the nation’s economic recovery, Mr Morrison said.
The multimillion-dollar package will cover various areas of the industry including research, pre-border screening technology, cleaning and expansion of the Maritime Arrivals and Reporting System.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said it is part of increased efforts to protect public health.
“Those reforms include investment and business improvements to address recommendations made by the independent Inspector-General of Biosecurity, including efforts to manage the unique public health risk posed by passengers and crew on arriving international vessels,” he said.
“We are investing in technical solutions to keep biosecurity threats out of Australia, including through new screening technologies for people and goods at the border.
“We will fund a series of groundbreaking trials to screen for biosecurity risks offshore and continue the development of modern, innovative detection systems.”
The government will also create more biosecurity campaigns to educate those working in the sector.
“Building community and industry awareness of our biosecurity system is also essential to ensuring the effectiveness of the system,” Mr Littleproud said.
“This package demonstrates our commitment to our agricultural sector and unique environment.”
The prime minister is expected to make an official announcement from Rockhampton on Tuesday.
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