Biosecurity Queensland Ministerial Advisory Council

Biosecurity Queensland Ministerial Advisory Council established

Members of the Biosecurity Queensland Ministerial Advisory Council (BQMAC) have been selected, following a public expression of interest to nominate representatives, held in mid 2019 and by nominations from organisations listed in the terms of reference.

What is BQMAC?

BQMAC’s role is to provide strategic oversight and direction on Queensland’s priorities within the national biosecurity system. It will do this by providing advice on the Queensland Biosecurity Strategy, which is the strategic direction for partners in the biosecurity system and by providing advice to the Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries on key biosecurity issues and trends affecting Queensland. BQMAC’s role is also to work in partnership with stakeholders, supporting discussion and consultation and disseminating information to industry channels.

BQMAC members

BQMAC comprises members with skillsets that demonstrate them as future leaders and influencers of biosecurity preparedness and response within Queensland. With their combined breadth of knowledge and experience, the council will foster innovation and support Biosecurity Queensland to protect Queensland’s ecosystems, industries, and our way of life.

The members of BQMAC are:

  • Council Chair – as a former Queensland Government Director-General, Scott Spencer has considerable experience in the biosecurity field with a demonstrated track record of policy development and reform across most aspects of natural resources and primary industries
  • Professor Maxine Whittaker, College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University
  • Councillor Christine Rolfe, Local Government Association of Queensland
  • Dr Rachel McFadyen, weeds and invasive pest management
  • Dr Laurie Dowling, Queensland Farmers’ Federation
  • Michelle McKinlay, Australian Banana Growers’ Council
  • Kim Hooper, Australian Prawn Farmers Association
  • Peter Black, Essential Foresight
  • Belinda Callanan, AgForce Queensland Biosecurity Policy Committee Chair
  • Associate Professor Susan Hester, Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis (CEBRA).

Terms of reference

Download the full terms of reference.


  • 15 February 2024

    The Biosecurity Queensland Ministerial Advisory Council (BQMAC) met on 15 February 2024.

    BQMAC’s discussion focused on progress on the Minister’s key activities to be undertaken by BQMAC with Biosecurity Queensland (BQ) and the broader Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF). The members discussed each of the requested activities from the Minister and noted:

    1. Environmental scan – Initial scoping is underway including a literature review to underpin the scan. This will be one of the first deliverable under the refreshed Queensland Biosecurity Strategy 2024-2029 and Biosecurity Queensland continues to seek opportunities to partner with universities to deliver this work.
    2. Priorities for BQMAC – Following the refresh of the Queensland Biosecurity Strategy 2024-2029 (QBS), BQMAC will look to develop a work plan to encompass the key activities of the Council.
    3. Refresh Queensland Biosecurity Strategy 2024-2029 – BQMAC discussed draft wording for the refreshed QBS and endorsed the draft to go to the Minister, noting the criticality of strong action planning and continuing to work within a framework for monitoring the performance.
    4. Alignment of biosecurity research – BQ has a resource in place undertaking a review of the alignment of biosecurity research undertaken within DAF to the QBS.

    Following the release of the QBS, statements of intents will be produced annually to provide leadership on areas of focus within the strategy. The next Partners Forum will be held online and focused on the strategy and followed by engagement forums focused on specific biosecurity topics.

    The Queensland Chief Biosecurity Officer provided an overview of the biosecurity priorities for 2024 along with major initiatives enhancing preparedness and capacity and future investment priorities.

    Councillor Rolfe advised that she was not seeking re-election in the coming Local Government election. The Chair recognised Councillor Rolfe’s contributions as a member of the Council and arrangements are being made to appropriately fill the vacant positions on the BQMAC.

  • 31 October 2023

    The Biosecurity Queensland Ministerial Advisory Council (BQMAC) met on 31 October 2023.

    The Chair advised that John Coward was an apology and had informed the Minister of his need to step down from the Council. The Chair recognised the efforts John had made to the Council and his commitment to the betterment of the biosecurity system within Queensland. Nominations will be called for to fill this position on BQMAC.

    BQMAC’s discussion focused on correspondence from the Minister seeking key activities to be undertaken by BQMAC with BQ and the broader department.  The members discussed each of the requested activities from the Minister and noted:

    1. Environmental scan – this would be a first deliverable under the new Queensland Biosecurity Strategy to be delivered by leveraging partners such as universities. Deliverable due 30 June 2024 pending funding availability.
    2. BQMAC priorities – BQMAC will look to develop a work plan to encompass the key activities of the Council.
    3. Queensland Biosecurity Strategy 2024-29 – Members discussed progress on the refreshed Queensland strategy and specifically the need for alignment to the National Biosecurity Strategy and the recognition of stakeholder input to the strategy refresh. BQMAC members also raised how the process by which actions to implement the strategy were going to be developed and prioritised.
    4. Biosecurity research – Members discussed the potential approach to a review of biosecurity research and alignment to the Queensland biosecurity strategy.

    BQMAC then discussed a draft strategic overview for the Council which would provide a framework for a work plan for 2023-24.

    BQMAC members also discussed the relationship between BQMAC and QIPAC including the current engagement arrangements and channels for information sharing were considered. It was noted that there is a high expectation of QIPAC within the managing invasive species Queensland Audit Office report.

  • 20 June 2023

    The Biosecurity Queensland Ministerial Advisory Council (BQMAC) met on 20 June 2023. The discussion focused on the funding announced in the Queensland budget and the progress of the Queensland Biosecurity Strategy 2025–2029.

    BQMAC welcomed its new member, Associate Professor Susan Hester from the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis (CEBRA). The new Director- General of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr Chris Sarra, was a guest speaker who introduced himself to the Council and thanked them for their hard work and expertise.

    Rachel Chay, Deputy Director-General and Chief Biosecurity Officer provided an update on recent Biosecurity Queensland activities including the Queensland budget. There was an allocation of more than $21.7 million to be invested over 5 years, and $2.8 million each year thereafter, for action against current and emerging plant pests and diseases. As part of the budget announcement 15 permanent jobs (FTEs) will be allocated to Biosecurity Queensland. The National Red Imported Fire Ants Eradication Program received $61 million in funding over 4 years for a new response plan after the 2021 independent review.

    Council members noted the summary report of the Queensland Biosecurity Partners’ Forum and the progress of the 2024-Strategy writing group. It was noted that from the Partners’ Forum held in March 2023, there was consensus that the next strategy should focus on fewer actions and integrate monitoring and evaluation from the start. The Partners’ Forum participants also decided to combine intelligence and innovation into one theme and create a separate theme about response and preparedness.

    There was also discussion about ‘futuring’ in the context of the Strategy development and the need for big picture thinking to plan for tomorrow’s problems. Five ‘futuring’ themes were discussed: digital and technology acceleration, climate change, generation next, the complexity conundrum, and increasing urbanisation. BQMAC members are nominating two of the five themes they consider to be a priority for further discussion.

    Members noted and accepted the Invasive Plants and Animals Committee (IPAC) report and noted that the IPAC’s five-year strategy will be revised in 2024 to cover 2025-2030 and will need to align to the Queensland Biosecurity Strategy 2024-29.

  • 23 March 2023

    The Biosecurity Queensland Ministerial Advisory Council (BQMAC) met on 6 March 2023 and focused discussion on the Biosecurity Partners Forum to be held on 27-28 March 2023 and the associated development of the Queensland Biosecurity Strategy 2025–2029.

    Biosecurity Queensland officers provided updates on recent Biosecurity Queensland activities including, actions taken after the Queensland Government announced a boost of $22 million in funding to support preparedness for multiple, concurrent biosecurity threats.

    This has included the recruitment of ten regionally based frontline biosecurity officers located in Toowoomba, Charleville, Gatton, Dalby, Bundaberg, Townsville, Cairns, Mareeba, and South Johnstone.

    A horizon scanning and fore-sighting framework is being developed to improve fore- sighting capacity, expand timeframes for decision-making and improve the management of animal biosecurity threats and opportunities within Queensland.

    BQMAC were provided updates on the Queensland component of the Northern Australian Coordination Network and preparedness work undertaken in light of recent incursions including white spot disease and varroa mite in New South Wales. A brief update on the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program was also provided. BQMAC also noted the actions undertaken by the National Implementation Committee (NIC) for progression of the National Biosecurity Strategy.

    Members reviewed the program for the upcoming Biosecurity Partners Forum and provided inputs to guide delivery of the program.

    BQMAC also provided input on planning for the development of an evaluation framework for the Queensland Biosecurity Strategy 2025–2029, including advice on engaging an evaluation specialist after the Biosecurity Partners Forum and on the principles of evaluation that will be presented to forum participants.

    BQMAC discussed the proposed steps in strategy development to be undertaken after the forum and confirmed that BQMAC remains the custodian of the Queensland Biosecurity Strategy.