Biosecurity in Australia: Difference between revisions

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==Background==
 
==Background==
   
The term “biosecurity” has in the past been used purely to describe preventive and [[quarantine]] measures put in place to minimise the risk of [[Invasive species in Australia|invasive pests]] or [[disease]]s arriving at a specific location that could damage crops and [[livestock]] as well as the wider environment. However, the term has evolved to encompass much more. It includes managing [[Biological pest control|biological threats]] to our people, industries or environment. These may be from foreign or [[endemic]] organisms, but they can also extend to [[pandemic]] diseases and the threat of [[bioterrorism]].<ref name=fitt2013>{{cite web | last=Fitt | first=Gary | title=Explainer: why Australia needs biosecurity | website=The Conversation | date=15 November 2013 | url=http://theconversation.com/explainer-why-australia-needs-biosecurity-20105 | access-date=22 March 2020}}</ref>
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The term “biosecurity” has in the past been used purely to describe preventive and [[quarantine]] measures put in place to minimise the risk of [[Invasive species in Australia|invasive pests]] or [[disease]]s arriving at a specific location that could damage crops and [[livestock]] as well as the wider environment. However, the term has evolved to encompass much more. It includes managing [[Biological pest control|biological threats]] to people, industries or environment. These may be from foreign or [[endemic]] organisms, but they can also extend to [[pandemic]] diseases and the threat of [[bioterrorism]].<ref name=fitt2013>{{cite web | last=Fitt | first=Gary | title=Explainer: why Australia needs biosecurity | website=The Conversation | date=15 November 2013 | url=http://theconversation.com/explainer-why-australia-needs-biosecurity-20105 | access-date=22 March 2020}}</ref>
   
 
Biosecurity is also a process – a set of linked science-based [[protocol]]s and procedures designed to stop these unwanted pests and diseases from arriving in Australia, and detecting and rapidly eradicating them if they do arrive or trying to minimise their impact by using long-term management strategies, if they become established.<ref name=fitt2013/>
 
Biosecurity is also a process – a set of linked science-based [[protocol]]s and procedures designed to stop these unwanted pests and diseases from arriving in Australia, and detecting and rapidly eradicating them if they do arrive or trying to minimise their impact by using long-term management strategies, if they become established.<ref name=fitt2013/>

Revision as of 08:37, 27 March 2020

Biosecurity in Australia is governed and administered by two federal government departments, the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. The Biosecurity Act 2015 and related legislation is administered by the two departments. The Act aims to manage biosecurity risks to human health, agriculture, native flora and fauna and the environment. It also covers Australia’s international rights and obligations, and lists specific diseases which are contagious and capable of causing severe harm to human health. Each state and territory has additional legislation and protocols to cover biosecurity in their jurisdiction, and must liaise with the federal government in times of national emergency.

As of March 2020, the Department of Health has a page devoted to the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic, which is updated daily.

Background

The term “biosecurity” has in the past been used purely to describe preventive and quarantine measures put in place to minimise the risk of invasive pests or diseases arriving at a specific location that could damage crops and livestock as well as the wider environment. However, the term has evolved to encompass much more. It includes managing biological threats to people, industries or environment. These may be from foreign or endemic organisms, but they can also extend to pandemic diseases and the threat of bioterrorism.[1]

Biosecurity is also a process – a set of linked science-based protocols and procedures designed to stop these unwanted pests and diseases from arriving in Australia, and detecting and rapidly eradicating them if they do arrive or trying to minimise their impact by using long-term management strategies, if they become established.[1]

Being an island, Australia is to some degree protected from exotic pests and diseases, but along with this it also has an enormous border (the coastline) to protect,[1] with the sixth longest coastline in the world, at 25,780 kilometres (16,020 mi).[2][3] With the increase in international trade up until the second decade of the 21st century, ships, planes and people have been moving in increasing numbers across international and state borders.[1]

History of governance

Legislation

In 2015, the Biosecurity Act 2015 replaced most of the Quarantine Act 1908,[4] which was wholly repealed on 16 June 2016 by the Biosecurity (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2015.[5] [6][7] The new Act was a major reform of the Quarantine Act, in particular in its strengthening and modernising the existing framework of regulations governing biosecurity in Australia.[8] New requirements included how the then Department of Agriculture and Water Resources would manage biosecurity risks associated with goods, people and vessels entering Australia.[9]

The Biosecurity Bill 2014 passed through parliament on 14 May 2015 with bipartisan support, as possibly "one of the most substantial and significant pieces of legislation to pass through Parliament during the term of the [Abbott] Government". The Act did not radically change operational functions, but were more clearly described, with the aim of being easier to use and reducing the complexity of administering it. The main change relate was the compliance and enforcement of powers.[8]

As recommended by the Beale Review (One Biosecurity: A Working Partnership, Roger Beale et al., 2008[10][11]) and the earlier Nairn Report,[12] the Act effected a risk-based approach, but includes several measures to manage unacceptable levels of biosecurity risk.[8]

Administration

From August 2007 until September 2009, Biosecurity Australia, an agency of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, provided policy advice and assessment to protect plant and animal health in Australia, and to protect the agricultural economy. In September 2009, a division of DAFF known as Biosecurity Services Group took over its functions.[13].

DAFF became the Department of Agriculture in September 2013, followed by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in September 2015, and then the Department of Agriculture (Australia, 2019–20), each of which was responsible for biosecurity.[14]

21st century

As of March 2020, biosecurity in Australia is governed and administered by two federal departments, the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. They administer and enforce the various pieces of legislation in the Biosecurity Act 2015 and related ordinances, determinations and instruments.[15]

Health

The department of Health defines biosecurity as "all the measures taken to minimise the risk of infectious diseases caused by viruses, bacteria or other micro-organisms entering, emerging, establishing or spreading in Australia, potentially harming the Australian population, our food security and economy". These risks may enter Australia after people enter the countries from other places (whether on holiday or any other reason), having developed infections through food, water, insect bites, or contact with animals or other people. Often the infection is unknown because it is not obvious, and the infected person is not aware of it themselves, until they become unwell some time later. Some of these diseases may be serious, and biosecurity measures are necessary to ensure that the infection does not spread throughout the population.[15]

The Act lists specific diseases (Listed Human Diseases, or LHDs) which are contagious and can cause significant harm to human health; as of March 2020, these LHDs include:[15]

Biosecurity Officers from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources must be informed by any aircraft captain or ship’s master, should any of their passengers show signs of an infectious disease.[15]

Agriculture

Animals

Animal biosecurity involves protecting Australian livestock industries, native wildlife, human health and the environment from exotic or emerging animal pests and diseases.[1]

Australia is free of many highly infectious animal diseases, such as foot and mouth disease, highly pathogenic forms of avian influenza (bird flu), African swine fever and many others. An outbreak of any of these diseases could significantly impact the productivity of livestock industries, and make it very difficult to trade agricultural products overseas, as well as resulting in significant social and economic costs.[1]

The 2007 Australian equine influenza outbreak showed just how disruptive such disease outbreaks can be. Avian influenza was detected on poultry farms in New South Wales, followed by widespread culling, causing widespread disruption to the industry. Strict farm level biosecurity is becoming increasingly the norm.[1]

Emerging infectious diseases in livestock often originate in wild, native species, and these diseases may also affect human health – so-called zoonotic diseases comprised about 70% of all emerging diseases affecting human populations in 2013. These included bird flu, avian influenza, SARS and Hendra virus. The impacts of these diseases can be extremely severe, hence the need to manage livestock and human health risks in a unified way.[1]

Plants

Plant pests and diseases can damage plant industries, by reducing yields, lowering the quality of food, increasing production costs, and reducing the viability of sales to international markets. They have enormous potential for damage in the huge expanses of the wheat industry, as well as in the more intensive high-value production of horticulture, wine, cotton and sugar industries. Fewer pest and disease problems mean lower production costs. Plant pests and diseases can also cause significant damage to the natural environment.[1]

Australia is free of many damaging pests prevalent elsewhere, such as citrus greening, varroa mite (which has devastated honeybee productivity in every continent except Australia).[1]

Food safety

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is also responsible for food safety in Australia. It works with industry and other government agencies, in particular the Department of Health, and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), to develop policy and food standards, and the regulatory system involves the governments of Australia, New Zealand and the Australian states and territories.[16] The Department administers relevant legislation at the Australian border, and imported food must meet Australia's biosecurity requirements under the Biosecurity Act 2015, as well as food safety requirements of the Imported Food Control Act 1992.[16][17]

National Biosecurity Committee

The National Biosecurity Committee (NBC) was established under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity (IGAB), created in 2012 and revised in January 2019.[18] The NBC is "responsible for managing a national, strategic approach to biosecurity threats relating to plant and animal pests and diseases, marine pests and aquatics, and the impact of these on agricultural production, the environment, community well-being and social amenity", with one of its core objectives being to cooperation, coordination and consistency among the various government agencies involved.[19]

CSIRO

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the government agency responsible for scientific research collaborates with the relevant government departments, as well as industry, universities and other international agencies, to help protect Australian people, livestock, plants and the environment.[20]

State-based agencies

South Australia

  • Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) manages manages the risks related to animal and plant pests and diseases, food-borne illnesses, and misuse of rural chemicals in South Australia.[21] As of 2020, PIRSA is managing a review of current biosecurity legislation in South Australia, which has been covered by multiple pieces of legislation, with the aim of creating a new single and cohesive Biosecurity Act for the state[22][23][24] based on the current policy developed by PIRSA.[25]
  • SA Health, the "the brand name for the health portfolio of services and agencies responsible to...the Minister for Health and Wellbeing",[26] says that Biosecurity SA, under PIRSA, is responsible for managing the "risks and potential harm to the South Australian community, environment, and economy from pests and diseases". It cites a partnership known as "One Health", supported by the Zoonoses Working Group, which supports collaboration and coordination among stakeholders with regard to human, animal and environmental health.[27]

Past and present threats

2020: Coronavirus

On 21 March 2020, a human biosecurity emergency was declared in Australia owing to the risks to human health posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, after National Security Committee meeting the previous day. The Biosecurity Act 2015 specifies that the Governor-General may declare such an emergency exists if the Health Minister (currently Greg Hunt) is satisfied that "a listed human disease is posing a severe and immediate threat, or is causing harm, to human health on a nationally significant scale". This gives the Minister sweeping powers, including imposing restrictions or preventing the movement of people and goods between specified places, and evacuations.[4]

As of March 2020, the (federal) Department of Health has a page devoted to the pandemic, which is updated daily.[28]

State-based responses

The state and territory governments used existing legislation relating to public health emergencies in order to bring in various measures in March.[29]

  • In South Australia, a public health emergency was declared on 15 March 2020, under Section 87 of the Public Health Act 2011 (SA). SA Health is responsible for the provision, maintenance and coordination of health services, udner the Emergency Management Act 2004 the State Emergency Management Plan (SEMP).[30] A dedicated web page to provide information for the community and health professionals was created, with linked pages to key information updated daily.[31]
  • In Victoria, a state of emergency was declared on 16 March under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic), allowing health officials to "detain people, search premises without a warrant, and force people or areas into lockdown if it is considered necessary to protect public health".[32][29]
  • On 18 March 2020, New South Wales used Section 7 of their Public Health Act 2010 to force the immediate cancellation of major events with more than 500 people outdoors, and more than 100 people indoors.[33] NSW Health has a page dedicated to COVID-19.[34]

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Note: The coronovirus group includes SARS, MERS, and COVID-19.

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Fitt, Gary (15 November 2013). "Explainer: why Australia needs biosecurity". The Conversation. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Coastline". World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. Archived from the original on 24 November 2018.
  3. ^ ChartsBin. "Length of Coastline by Country". ChartsBin. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  4. ^ a b McPhee, Sarah (17 March 2020). "Human biosecurity emergency declared in Australia". NewsComAu. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  5. ^ "Quarantine Act 1908". Federal Register of Legislation. Australian Government. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  6. ^ "Biosecurity (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2015". Federal Register of Legislation. Australian Government. 27 September 2017. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  7. ^ "Biosecurity Act 2015". Federal Register of Legislation. Australian Government. 7 March 2019. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  8. ^ a b c "The Biosecurity Act 2015 - more than 100 years in the making, a shift to risk-based regulation, and activation of the Regulatory Powers Act". Maddocks. 15 June 2015. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  9. ^ "Vessel Reporting Requirements and the Biosecurity Act". Australian Government. Department of Agriculture. 16 June 2016. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  10. ^ Beal, Roger. "The Beale Review of Biosecurity". Issues Magazine. Retrieved 23 March 2020. ...an edited version of Chapter 1 of One Biosecurity: A Working Partnership (the Beale review).
  11. ^ Beale, Roger; Fairbrother, Jeff; Inglis, Andrew; Trebeck, David; Australia. Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry; Biosecurity Australia (September 2008), One Biosecurity : a working partnership, Dept. of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, ISBN 978-0-9803714-5-1, The independent review of Australia's quarentine and biosecurity arrangements report to the Australian Government. Full text here
  12. ^ Durant, S.; Faunce, T (April 2018). "Analysis of Australia's New Biosecurity Legislation [Abstract]". Journal of Law and Medicine. 25 (3): 647–654. PMID 29978659.
  13. ^ "Biosecurity Services Group". Archived from the original on 29 September 2009.
  14. ^ Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (2016), Corporate Plan 2016–17 (PDF), Australian Government, archived from the original (PDF) on 19 October 2016
  15. ^ a b c d "Biosecurity Information". Department of Health. 31 January 2020. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  16. ^ a b "Food regulation and safety". Department of Agriculture. Australian Government. 4 November 2019. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  17. ^ "Imported Food Inspection Scheme". Department of Agriculture. Government of Australia. 4 February 2020. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  18. ^ "Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity (IGAB)". Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  19. ^ "National Biosecurity Committee". Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  20. ^ "Health and Biosecurity". CSIRO. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  21. ^ "Biosecurity". PIRSA. 12 August 2014. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  22. ^ "Developing a new Biosecurity Act for South Australia (SA)". PIRSA. 8 April 2019. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  23. ^ "Fact Sheet -Biosecurity Legislation Project" (PDF). PIRSA. 13 March 2020. Retrieved 26 March 2020. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)>
  24. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions: Biosecurity Act" (PDF). PIRSA. July 2019. Retrieved 26 March 2020. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)>
  25. ^ "South Australia's Biosecurity Policy 2020–2023" (PDF). PIRSA. 2020. Retrieved 26 March 2020. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)>
  26. ^ "About SA Health". SA Health. 30 May 2017. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  27. ^ "Biosecurity SA (under Primary Industries and Regions SA)". SA Health. 8 December 2017. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  28. ^ "Coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert". Australian Government Department of Health. 6 February 2020. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  29. ^ a b Karp, Paul (16 March 2020). "Australian state governments declare public health emergencies to contain coronavirus". the Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  30. ^ "COVID-19: SA Health Response". SA Health. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  31. ^ "Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)". SA Health. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  32. ^ Murray-Atfield, Yara (16 March 2020). "Victoria has declared an 'unprecedented' state of emergency. Here's what that means". ABC News. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  33. ^ "Diseases - Events and gatherings: Public Health (COVID-19 Mass Gatherings) Order 2020". NSW Health. 18 March 2020. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  34. ^ "Alerts - COVID-19 - Frequently asked questions". NSW Health. 11 March 2020. Retrieved 27 March 2020.

External links

 This article incorporates text by Gary Fitt available under the CC BY 4.0 license.