Comprehensive biosecurity overhaul implemented in Far North Queensland
News release | 08-Jun-2023
A five-year program of investment and upgrades has built a modern and fit-for-purpose biosecurity system to protect Far North Queensland.
Under the reforms, including implementation and expansion of the Far Northern Biosecurity Initiative (FNBI), the government is investing $3.7 million over five years into ensuring the Torres Strait and Cape York Peninsula are prepared for biosecurity threats.
The next phase of the initiative has commenced, aligned with the Queensland Government’s $22 million investment in biosecurity preparedness that added 10 new biosecurity officers across the state.
The reforms will mean more biosecurity surveillance across the Cape, with plans already in place to continue working with industry to achieve this.
As part of the next phase of reforms, the Cape York Biosecurity Centre (CYBC) at Coen will be closed, however there will be a broader staff presence across Cape York and the Torres Strait.
Even with these changes taken into account, Biosecurity Queensland has increased the number of its personnel in the Far North compared to this time last year.
Biosecurity Queensland has bolstered its commitment to the front lines of Cape York biosecurity, appointing new team members in Bamaga and Thursday Island over the last 12 months.
Queensland Chief Biosecurity Officer Rachel Chay said successful biosecurity systems relied on constant re-evaluation of how we best protect Queensland from emerging biosecurity risks.
“That means building and expanding partnerships with industry, with local governments and with community organisations,” Dr Chay said.
“Our significant investment in biosecurity programs in Far North Queensland shows we are serious about protecting our agricultural industries.
“No Australian state faces more biosecurity threats than Queensland, and we know that Far North Queensland’s geographical position puts it at the front line.
“These modernized biosecurity approaches mean Far North Queensland is well prepared to identify and deal with threats.”
Dr Chay said Biosecurity Queensland was investing heavily to protect the agricultural industries vital to jobs and the economy of the Far North.
“Over the next five years, $3.7 million will be invested into the Far Northern Biosecurity Initiative (FNBI) which will have a strong emphasis on stakeholder empowerment, education, and partnership,” she said.
“The FNBI is changing the way biosecurity services are delivered in the region, allowing more efficient and effective management options than the inspection focused model employed at the CYBC.”
Dr Chay said Biosecurity Queensland will continue working with key stakeholders to build on the partnerships already achieved across Far North Queensland.
“With the limited number of vehicles stopping at CYBC, there are more contemporary and effective ways of delivering biosecurity services,” she said.
“In 2021 only 40 per cent of almost 30,000 southbound vehicles were inspected at the Coen facility.
“An estimated 90,000 people visit the Northern Peninsula Area each year, mostly from May to November.”
The CYBC was established over 20 years ago following detection of spiralling whitefly in Cape York.
The new partnership approach has already led to a range of joint surveillance activities on Cape York Peninsula to track the spread of pests and diseases.
Biosecurity is respectful of the Native Title claim on the site of the existing Coen facility and looks forward to this being finalised for a fair outcome.
Biosecurity is everybody’s responsibility. Biosecurity Queensland remains committed to providing quality biosecurity services in Far North Queensland, and to helping the public and stakeholders to meet their biosecurity responsibilities.
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