Communique 7 December 2022

The Biosecurity Queensland Ministerial Advisory Council (BQMAC) met on 7 December 2022 to discuss a range of issues, including preparedness for biosecurity emergencies and the Queensland Biosecurity Strategy 2018–2023. Members noted the significant contribution Dr Aaron Dodd had made to the council prior to his resignation on taking a role with the federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Members viewed a pre-recorded presentation by Minister Mark Furner, who advised that with Queensland exposed to ever-increasing biosecurity threats, BQMAC’s advice and expertise is more important and valued than ever. BQMAC’s advice has helped shape action taken by the Government, including the $22 million package of measures for biosecurity preparedness announced in August 2022.

Biosecurity Queensland officers provided an update on recent Biosecurity Queensland activities including, the success of the Far Northern Biosecurity Initiative, progress of the feral pig control program initiated in response to the proximity of emergency animal diseases (EAD) in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, vaccine research and development for lumpy skin disease, formation of an EAD functional team and the release of a national hitchhiker pest online training package aimed at large national retailers and their supply chains (in partnership with Plant Health Australia and NSW).

The update also included information on the 10 new frontline preparedness officers and progress of the Fire Ant Suppression Taskforce and National Fire Ant Eradication Program. Members also noted the success of the recent collaboration with Biosecurity Queensland during the conduction of the industry led and funded avian influenza exercise.

Members discussed the recent widening scope of One Health globally to include agriculture, environment and animal and human health with a particular emphasis on inclusion of the effects of climate change and the environment. BQMAC encouraged Biosecurity Queensland to adopt this approach particularly in the upcoming Queensland strategy refresh.

BQMAC discussed sustainable funding for the national biosecurity system and noted the recent increase in awareness of biosecurity, particularly in relation to emergency animal disease proximity means that this is an ideal time to explore sustainable funding options, possibly with other jurisdictional committees to further a consolidated approach that can be conveyed nationally.

Members agreed that the approach to the expiry of the current strategy should be to propose to the biosecurity partners forum, (to be held in late March 2023), that the current strategy is refreshed with some changes to ensure it complements (and leverages any actions that may be taken under) the national strategy.

The importance of measuring the success of a refreshed strategy was discussed, along with the particular difficulties of developing successful measures of effectiveness and efficiency for biosecurity. Despite the difficulties, BQMAC agreed that it was important to continue to keep working on measures and agreed to continue to work with Biosecurity

Queensland to assist guide development of a small number of additional high-level measures of the success of the strategy.

Members noted the Invasive Plants and Animals (IPAC) report and approved the IPAC terms of reference. Members noted the ongoing lack of succession capacity within Invasive Plants and Animals (IP&A) that impacts science and other areas and discussed a number of options to correct this such as increased collaborations with universities.