Output 5: Product Integrity, Animal (including Aquatic Animal) and Plant Health

Other format

This information is also available in the following format:

Through Output 5, the Department works with government, industry and community groups to manage terrestrial and aquatic animal health and welfare, plant health and protection, residues, food safety and agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals. Output 5 is delivered mainly through our Product Integrity, Animal and Plant Health Division, which includes the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer (OCVO) and the Office of the Chief Plant Protection Officer (OCPPO).

Priorities
  • Strengthen Australia’s national framework for pest and disease management by implementing the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy and the National Livestock Identification System, managing animal and plant health programmes, and continuing reforms to agvet chemicals legislation.
  • Manage pest, disease and contaminant emergencies effectively and efficiently through preparedness and response activities, applying the lessons learned from Exercise Eleusis, the 2005 national simulation of an avian influenza outbreak, and emergency responses to pest and disease incidents.
  • Advance Australia’s interests in international animal health, plant health and food standards forums, work with neighbouring countries to build their capacity to manage pests and diseases, and contribute to bilateral discussions to resolve significant technical market access problems.
Highlights
  • All Securing the Future projects completed on time.
  • Avian influenza preparedness heightened.
  • National strategies for animal health surveillance and laboratories approved.
  • National accreditation scheme for plant health diagnostic laboratories progressed.
  • National plant health surveillance reporting tool implemented.
  • Control framework proposed for security of agricultural chemicals.
  • Animal welfare communications and R&D priorities developed.
  • National Livestock Identification System in place for cattle, being implemented for sheep and goats.
  • Industry brought into emergency animal disease communications plans. Department acted on Asian honey bees, abalone die off, wild bird die offs and anthrax outbreaks.
  • Australia earned ‘bovine spongiform encephalopathy negligible risk’ status from World Organisation for Animal Health. Eradication of red imported fire ant and citrus canker on track.
  • Australia continues significant input to international standards. Regional capacity-building work generating benefits.

National animal and plant health and animal welfare

During 2006-07, the Department continued to develop animal and plant health and biosecurity policy. We also worked on the implementation of the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS), the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) and reforms to agvet chemicals legislation.

Animal health policy

Departmental officers participated actively in animal health policy-making forums, such as the Animal Health Committee, the Aquatic Animal Health Committee, the Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Diseases (CCEAD), the Aquatic CCEAD, the Tuberculosis Freedom Assurance Programme Coordinating Committee, the National Arbovirus Monitoring Programme Management Committee, the National Ovine Johnes Management Programme Advisory Committee, and their subcommittees and working groups.

Animal health projects under the Securing the Future programme were completed on time. The working relationship with Animal Health Australia (AHA) was further developed and strengthened by regular meetings of senior officers to monitor progress of significant AHA programmes funded by the Department. In particular, departmental officers contributed to the five year review of the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement.

The Avian Influenza Programme developed national policy for preparedness and response for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), including biosecurity, vaccination, domestic poultry surveillance and communications. We expect further collaboration with industry and state and territory governments in 2007 to advance the development of auditable industry- and sector-specific biosecurity plans and a risk based national surveillance strategy and programme for avian influenza in poultry.

To complete two tasks assigned to us by the Primary Industries Standing Committee last year, we coordinated the development of:

  • the National Animal Health Surveillance Strategy, a strategic framework for considering Australia’s future surveillance requirements
  • the National Animal Health Laboratory Strategy, to deliver animal health diagnostic services and to be complemented by a national animal health laboratory network as a programme within AHA.

The March 2007 meeting of the Primary Industries Standing Committee endorsed both strategy documents.

We deepened formal and informal cooperation with human health agencies in relation to zoonoses (diseases affecting humans and animals) and with environmental agencies in relation to wildlife health.

Plant health policy

The OCPPO continued to lead and coordinate national plant health policy and advice to the Primary Industries Standing Committee and the Primary Industries Ministerial Council through the Plant Health Committee and its subordinate bodies.

The Subcommittee on Plant Health Diagnostic Standards worked with the National Association of Testing Authorities to develop a national accreditation scheme for plant health diagnostic laboratories, and developed a process to develop and agree on national diagnostic standards.

The National Surveillance Reference Group oversaw the capture of government-sponsored survey information into the National Plant Surveillance Reporting Tool, which provides information on Australia’s plant health status to support export market access. With assistance from Plant Health Australia, the tool will be extended to capture industry-based surveys. The reference group supervised the deployment of a national hazard site surveillance programme in urban areas around Australia’s major ports of entry, complementing the current trapping programmes for exotic fruit flies and the Asian gypsy moth.

The OCPPO contributed to the development of agreed frameworks for the National Plant Health Strategy, the National Fruit Fly Strategy and a national plant health status report, being coordinated by Plant Health Australia.

We produced a final dataset for the national stocktake of fruit fly related activities, begun in 2005-06, to inform the development of the National Fruit Fly Strategy. The stocktake identified 129 fruit fly related projects and ongoing activities worth $128.69 million for the five year period to 30 June 2008. Additional projects worth $3.20 million will continue up to mid 2010.

The OCPPO is undertaking a project on behalf of the Plant Health Committee to investigate the current use of methyl bromide as a fumigant. Methyl bromide is regulated internationally as an ozone-depleting substance. Investigations are focusing on alternatives for quarantine, preshipment and critical exemption uses here and overseas. The project will contribute to future policy on methyl bromide use and the use of alternatives.

Biosecurity and bioterrorism

During the year, the Department played a leading role in the development of controls to address security concerns about agricultural chemicals. Australian security and other agencies are now considering a proposed control framework in consultation with user industries. We also provided technical support for other whole of-government counter-bioterrorism initiatives, such as the Council of Australian Governments Review of Hazardous Biological Materials.

Responding to concerns about H5N1 avian influenza and other zoonoses, we established a high level joint consultative forum with the Department of Health and Ageing. The forum will discuss existing and emerging zoonoses.

During the year, we conducted research to make national-level biosecurity communications more effective. Work began in the Yass district of New South Wales to develop a local biosecurity model that can be evaluated for wider application and potential national rollout. Other biosecurity communication activities included a mailout to 1.3 million peri urban farmers; engagement with storekeepers and organisers at farmers’ markets, hobby farmers and owners of small poultry flocks; and a biosecurity ‘road show’.

We participated as a member of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for National Plant Biosecurity, particularly in the areas of governance and strategic planning. The CRC’s main aim is to strengthen Australia’s biosecurity capacity, and it has begun research into preparedness, prevention, diagnostics, surveillance and impact management. The centre has also commissioned research in a number of areas directly relevant to the OCPPO, such as the diagnosis of plant pests and cost effective innovations in plant health surveillance.

To help the CRC connect researchers with biosecurity end users, such as the Department, a number of our staff took part in the centre’s national Biosecurity Symposium in September 2006 and in a panel discussion at the May 2007 Quarantine and Market Access Conference.

We are working closely with the Australian Centre of Excellence for Risk Analysis by providing datasets to assist the development of tools and methods that will aid decision making in plant pest eradication programmes.

We provided technical input to support the development of the Biosecurity, Surveillance, Incident Response and Tracing (BIOSIRT) national disease information management system. The design phase of BIOSIRT was completed during the year. We expect the development phase to be completed by October 2007, with integration across state and territory agencies to follow in 2008. In early 2007-08, the New South Wales Government plans to finalise a tender evaluation for a resource management component for the software.

Australian Animal Welfare Strategy

The Department continued to lead and coordinate the implementation of the AAWS. In October 2006, 120 stakeholders attended the second AAWS national workshop, which endorsed the development of a national communications strategy after an extensive stocktake of current activities and key issues and the identification of priorities, gaps and risks. A new working group advised on education and training needs, joining the six sectoral working groups. Design of an animal welfare website is underway.

The Department also established a cross-sectoral research and development working group to investigate ways to incorporate animal welfare R&D priorities into existing R&D programmes. In June 2007, we hosted the AAWS Animal Welfare Science Summit on Pain and Pain Management in conjunction with the annual conference of the Australian Veterinary Association.

Work is underway to develop the necessary requirements for consistent delivery of animal welfare guidelines, codes and standards across jurisdictions.

National Livestock Identification System

The NLIS is a nationally integrated system to allow livestock to be traced to manage animal disease emergencies and food safety. The Australian Government is providing $20 million over four years to improve the established system for cattle and to assist with implementing similar systems for sheep, goats and pigs.

Pesticides, veterinary medicines and residues

Legislation passed in June 2007 gave effect to governance reforms for the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), bringing the financial management of the authority under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and the staff under the Public Service Act 1999. These changes came into effect on 1 July 2007.

A framework for determining which chemical products should be regulated by the APVMA was developed in 2006-07. The Primary Industries Standing Committee will consider the framework in 2007-08, along with recommendations for the inclusion or exclusion of specific products from the National Registration Scheme for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals.

A scoping study of Australia’s analytical laboratory capability and capacity, begun in July 2005, was revised and expanded during 2006-07 to include the development of a comprehensive database of laboratory capacity and capability to test for chemicals and contaminants identified as being of concern. The revised project has received strong support from the Australian meat industry and Australian Government agencies.

In March 2007, with the Department of the Environment and Water Resources, we completed a joint tender selection process for work to develop a scientific, risk based methodology to set a national standard for contaminants in fertiliser. The aim is to manage the risk to the food chain posed by contaminants in industrial wastes used in fertilisers. Contractual arrangements were finalised to enable the project to begin before the end of 2007. The OCPPO established a programme to manage potential adverse outcomes for the horticulture industries from an APVMA review of current uses of two key insecticides (dimethoate and fenthion). With input from government and industry, the programme will outline a national approach.

Management of pest, disease and contaminant emergencies

The Department continued to build Australia’s preparedness for pest, disease and contaminant emergencies, in part by applying the lessons learned from experience in real emergencies, but also by applying the lessons from Exercise Eleusis, the national simulation of an avian influenza outbreak conducted in 2005. Most recommendations from Exercise Eleusis have now been implemented, with others substantially completed. This implementation is currently the subject of a performance audit by the Australian National Audit Office.

In work arising from a meeting with peak industry groups in 2005, we finalised arrangements for involving industry more closely in national communications during pest and disease emergencies. The peak industry bodies affected by an incident, along with the National Farmers’ Federation and the Australian Food and Grocery Council, will join a group of senior government communicators to develop and oversee the public relations strategy, including talking points. The new model has been incorporated into the AUSVETPLAN Public Relations Manual.

Critical incident responses

The Department provided leadership and technical assistance during several emergency animal disease (EAD) incidents during the year, including:

  • a detection of Asian honey bees in Cairns in April-May 2007
  • continuing abalone die off events in Victoria (the disease has not reappeared on abalone farms but seems endemic in some wild abalone fisheries in the state)
  • wild bird die off events
  • anthrax outbreaks in Victoria and New South Wales in early 2007.
Locusts

Widespread drought kept locust populations low throughout eastern Australia during the year. In December 2006, the Australian Plague Locust Commission (APLC) effectively controlled a small locust outbreak that developed in the Tambo area of central Queensland after local rainfall the previous month.

Contingency plans were activated in early 2007 after heavy rain across much of the channel country in southwestern Queensland, but ground and aerial surveys in February and March found no significant locust populations.

Significant locust outbreaks developed in the wheatbelt and southwest of Western Australia during the year, requiring large scale control operations by state authorities.

The APLC commissioners endorsed the recommendations of a comprehensive review of APLC aerial safety undertaken during the year. The commission made significant progress in implementing many of the recommendations, particularly those relevant to helicopter operations.

A supplementary study by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics concluded that APLC preventive locust control operations in remote areas reduced the size of populations invading agricultural areas, delivering benefits in a ratio of 20:1 to costs.

Residue monitoring

The National Residue Survey (NRS) carried out random residue monitoring of animal and plant products to support participating industries’ access to domestic and export markets. In all, NRS coordinated the collection and analysis of 18,183 samples, with the largest numbers coming from cattle, sheep, pigs and grains. The number of samples was lower than in 2005-06, due to the ongoing effects of the drought. Through consultation with industry, levies were successfully established for 13 additional grains commodities. All tradable grains will participate in the NRS grains residue monitoring programme from 1 July 2007.

Emergency animal diseases and pests

The government-industry Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy Freedom Assurance Programme continued to implement and strengthen Australia’s bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) risk-reduction measures during 2006-07. The World Organisation for Animal Health (formerly the Office International des Epizooties, or OIE) acknowledged the effectiveness of the measures by recognising Australia as a ‘BSE negligible risk’ country. The European Commission recognised the OIE’s assessment from 1 July 2007.

Most of the 24 actions to improve BSE risk management identified at the December 2005 BSE stakeholder workshop were completed during 2006-07 and reported in the National EAD Action Plan (managed by AHA). We held a follow up government-industry BSE workshop in February 2007 to review progress and identify new work. The workshop identified only three significant new work items, involving the ongoing refinement of contingency arrangements, thereby validating Australia’s continuing BSE risk-reduction measures.

The Department made strategic, policy and technical contributions to Australia’s whole of-government arrangements to prevent and prepare for avian and pandemic influenza outbreaks. We engaged with state and territory authorities, the poultry industry, AHA and the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) to advance national surveillance and response strategies covering poultry, zoos and wild birds.

With funding from the Australian Biosecurity CRC, we have developed a comprehensive flock level disease simulation model. The model is now being used to investigate the potential spread of HPAI and to assess the effectiveness of different surveillance strategies in vaccinated and unvaccinated flocks.

We are developing a more sophisticated, national-scale model that takes the structure and dynamics of the Australian poultry industry into account, including regional factors, company structures, management systems and the roles of service providers, such as feed companies and dead bird disposal contractors. The model will allow us to study how far and fast HPAI might spread from particular regions or sectors of the industry.

Other work on avian influenza included:

  • implementing a national wild bird surveillance programme
  • developing vaccine supply arrangements by identifying appropriate vaccines and seeking regulatory approvals, and establishing the National Avian Influenza Vaccine Experts group to advise on vaccination and develop options for contingency vaccine supply
  • increasing diagnostic capacity, including the development of laboratory tests and national standards by AAHL
  • conducting the Government-Industry Avian Influenza Workshop with domestic stakeholders (Sydney, June 2007)
  • conducting an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) workshop on ‘Sharing experiences with the management of the avian influenza H5N1 threat’ (Bangkok, June 2007)
  • continuing an avian influenza awareness campaign targeted at potentially high risk groups
  • conducting risk analyses for the introduction of HPAI into Australia through migratory birds.

In cooperation with the Subcommittee on Animal Health Laboratory Standards and the Public Health Laboratory Network, we developed an exercise programme aimed at strengthening national diagnostic capacity for large scale EAD responses. The first stage featured the development of a capacity-testing exercise tool, used for the first time at AAHL in June. The remainder of the programme, to be rolled out over 2007-08, will involve AAHL, state laboratories and EAD response managers.

A stakeholder workshop on foot and-mouth disease (FMD), held in Sydney in February 2007, involved around 60 government and industry participants. The workshop identified key actions to strengthen Australia’s preparedness for FMD, which were then incorporated into the National EAD Action Plan.

We continued our involvement in the FMD vaccine bank contract advisory group, which oversees Australia’s FMD vaccine contingency arrangements. A number of AUSVETPLAN and AQUAVETPLAN manuals were updated, endorsed and adopted during the year, including the disease strategy for HPAI. For AQUAVETPLAN, the work included a new disease strategy manual for withering syndrome of abalone and a new operational procedures manual for decontamination.

The annual workshop for state coordinators of the Consultative Committee on Invasive Marine Pest Emergencies was held in Melbourne in May 2007. The workshop identified opportunities to improve current processes and supporting documents, allowed members to provide input into emergency management activities and projects under development.

In addition to investigating the Asian honey bee incursion in Queensland, the OCVO was also involved in investigations into ‘colony collapse disorder’ of bees in the United States and in scoping future disease threats to the Australian honey bee industry, such as varroa mite.

Emergency plant pests

The Department provided leadership and technical assistance during several emergency plant pest incidents and programmes during the year, including:

  • detection of sugarcane smut near Bundaberg in June 2006
  • detection of the mango leaf gall midge in islands in the Torres Strait in July 2006
  • a detection of khapra beetle in Perth in April 2007
  • the ongoing programme to eradicate European house borer from Western Australia.

The Department drafted regulations to impose emergency plant pest response levies on participating plant industries, enabling those industries to meet funding obligations under the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed. The programme to eradicate citrus canker remained on track. There has been no detection of citrus canker in the Emerald area of Queensland since June 2005, and replanting of commercial citrus in the area began from 1 July 2007.

Measures to eradicate the red imported fire ant continued as planned. The numbers of fire ant nests detected within the quarantine area in the southeastern suburbs of Brisbane remained very low and within acceptable limits. The eradication programme has benefited from high public awareness within the local community. After a favourable review of the programme by the OCPPO, the Australian Government provided $10.27 million to fund work for a further two years to 2008-09.

The national programme to eradicate grapevine leaf rust from the Northern Territory concluded successfully on 30 June 2007. No further disease has been detected, and eradication is expected to be declared in September 2007.

A national contingency plan for eucalyptus rust, supported by a pest risk analysis by Biosecurity Australia and incorporating an agreed process for rapid diagnosis, is nearing completion. A national workshop involving primary industries and government and industry environmental representatives highlighted the need for a common effort to plan responses to an incursion by this pest, and provided a useful case study for development of the Australian Biosecurity System for Primary Production and the Environment (AusBIOSEC).

International standards and capacity building

The Department worked with international standards-setting organisations to protect Australian interests and with regional neighbours to build their capacity to detect and respond to pest and disease outbreaks.

International animal health

Through the Food and Agriculture Organization and the OIE, we helped to establish the first international network of communication experts to work specifically on HPAI. The network was extended through a meeting of APEC members to address the H5N1 avian influenza strain and other EADs.

We influenced international animal health standards by working with the OIE and providing input to Terrestrial and Aquatic Animal Health Code chapters that make disease-specific recommendations for the trade in susceptible species. Our contributions included input on:

  • the mollusc diseases caused by infection with Bonamia ostreae, B. exitiosa, Haplosporidium nelsoni, Marteilia refringens, Mikrocytos mackini and Xenohaliotis californiensis
  • the crustacean diseases Taura syndrome, white spot disease, yellowhead disease, tetrahedral baculovirosis, spherical baculovirosis, and infectious hypodermal and haematopoietic necrosis
  • the fish disease caused by koi herpesvirus
  • the terrestrial animal diseases bovine spongiform encephalopathy, avian influenza and equine influenza
  • animal welfare.

We participated in OIE standard-setting groups and general sessions, and in meetings of:

  • the Aquatic Animal Health Standards Commission, which is chaired by an Australian (Paris, October 2006 and March 2007)
  • the Working Group on Wildlife Diseases (Paris, February 2007).

Other international work on EAD preparedness, prevention, diagnosis and response during the year included:

  • work with APEC, Food and Agriculture Organization and OIE groups on HPAI
  • provision of information on Australia’s animal health and veterinary public health systems and status to international organisations and bilaterally as requested
  • participation in Animal Health ‘Quads’ meetings
  • international cooperation on disease modelling, particularly for FMD.
International plant health

The Chief Plant Protection Officer is Australia’s national contact point for the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). An Australian secretariat and a departmental steering group guide interaction with the IPPC and national and international stakeholders, ensuring that Australia meets its obligations to exchange information and implement the convention. The work includes regular reviews and updates of Australian content on the International Phytosanitary Portal (http://www.ippc.int).

During 2006-07, the Australian secretariat engaged stakeholders in the standards-setting process to ensure a close match between international standards and Australian production and market access requirements. Four new standards were endorsed, including guidance on the recognition of pest free areas, which had immediate application to market access for a number of horticulture crops.

Australia contributed to an evaluation of the IPPC and analysed IPPC outcomes. As the representative for the southwest Pacific group, we were also involved in a review of the organisation’s standards-setting process.

Australia holds the position of Vice Chair for the Pacific Plant Protection Organisation (PPPO) and, through our membership of the PPPO, an Australian representative is a member of the Standards Committee of the IPPC. The Executive Committee of the PPPO met in Australia in August 2007 to progress the work programme of the organisation. Participants undertook quarantine operations training while they were here.

Together with Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service and Biosecurity Australia staff, departmental officers from the Product Integrity, Animal and Plant Health Division participated in annual ‘Quads’ meetings on plant health matters with their counterparts from New Zealand, Canada and the United States. The meetings discussed the IPPC and its standards, recent incursions of exotic pests and responses to them, and other areas of common interest where collaboration could deliver benefits to the four countries.

Several collaboration activities arising from Quads were completed during the year, including the development of a website, hosted by the United States, to facilitate information exchange, the sharing of risk analyses for the Asian gypsy moth and collation of a list of diagnostic keys for a range of organisms. We made progress on electronic certification, the development of national biosecurity curriculums for tertiary institutions, and a consolidated list of common target pests for which information on diagnostics, surveillance and emergency responses can be exchanged.

International food regulatory standards

The Department continued to coordinate Australian input to the Codex Alimentarius Commission. We participated in Codex activities in food safety and quality in areas such as residues; contaminants; inspection and certification; labelling; hygiene; and quality standards for food in international trade.

An increasing emphasis on quality specifications in international standards means that the Australian Government and industry must continue to influence the development of Codex commodity standards to protect Australian interests.

We developed whole of-government positions on all technical and policy issues discussed in Codex, enabling Australia to influence the development of international standards that are based on sound science and promote fair practices in the food trade. We continued to host and chair the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems.

Communication with stakeholders was maintained through the annual Codex Australia stakeholder forum (Brisbane, August 2006), the Codex website (http://www.codexaustralia.gov.au) and three editions of Setting the standard (September 2006, January 2007 and May 2007). Codex documents online continued to provide non government stakeholders with access to Codex documents as they became available.

Regional capacity building in animal health

The Department made technical contributions to regional assistance and capacity-building programmes funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) under its Pandemics and Emerging Infectious Diseases Strategy 2006-2010 and the OIE’s Southeast Asia Foot and Mouth Disease Campaign.

The OCVO worked with the Network of Aquaculture Centres in the Asia Pacific, AusVet Animal Health Services and the Aquatic Animal Health Research Institute in Thailand’s Department of Fisheries to help deliver a project under AusAID’s ASEAN-Australia Development and Cooperation Programme’s Regional Partnership Scheme. The project (‘Strengthening aquatic animal health capacity and biosecurity in ASEAN’) harmonises approaches to aquatic animal health management and biosecurity in ASEAN, and builds the capacity of participating countries to implement them. Aquatic animal health experts from the OCVO travelled to ASEAN member countries to assist in a series of policy and technical workshops and for four in country technical missions.

Other contributions to animal health capacity-building during the year included:

  • presentations on Australia’s animal health approaches and systems to visiting international delegations, including from Japan, the United States, the European Commission and Saudi Arabia
  • three APEC workshops
    • Management of exercise simulations (Bangkok, May 2007)
    • Sharing experiences with the management of the avian influenza H5N1 threat (Bangkok, June 2007)
    • Emergency communications networks (Cairns, June 2007)
  • presentations to the Master Class in Agricultural Trade Policy and Biosecurity (Canberra, June 2007) on Australia’s preparedness against HPAI and on the OIE
  • participation in regional meetings on avian influenza
  • participation in bilateral discussions on market access with various countries and organisations, including the United States, the European Commission and key Asian and Middle East countries
  • support for OIE regional capacity-building for surveillance and response to HPAI and FMD
  • under AusAID’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Capacity Building Programme (SPSCBP):
    • a study of livestock trade in the ASEAN region
    • planning workshops for training for veterinary epidemiologists and for the development of an epidemiological network to support the work of the FMD programme in peninsular areas of Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia.
Regional capacity building in plant health

The OCPPO coordinates regional plant health capacity building activities mainly through AusAID’s SPSCBP. The focus is on the establishment and maintenance of specimen-based pest records, including training to develop pest surveys, identify pests and store them in curated culture collections or herbaria. These records help Australia to determine offshore pest risks, and help our neighbours develop pest lists to facilitate exports.

Activities in 2006-07 included:

  • production of a booklet providing a plain-language introduction to the international Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the SPS Agreement) 
  • training workshops on
    • plant pathogenic fungi (Bangkok, Thailand, January 2007)
    • pest Lepidoptera (Sakaerat Research Station and Bangkok, Thailand, May 2007)
    • SPS awareness (Bangkok, January 2007, and Sabah, Malaysia, September 2006)
    • the development of plant pathogen collections (Bangkok, January 2007)
    • the development of pest insect collections (Sabah, September 2006)
    • pest and weed risk analysis and market access (Singapore, March 2007) 
  • preparation of series of fact sheets on tropical fungal diseases.

AusAID’s rolling evaluation regime reviewed the SPSCBP favourably in May and June 2007 (see the ‘Reviews and evaluations’ section of this report). During 2007-08, the programme will place greater emphasis on collecting systematic data on regional impacts.

Several bilateral capacity-building programmes delivered with funding from AusAID complemented the larger SPSCBP. Public Sector Linkages Programme activities with Thailand and the Philippines delivered a training course in the diagnostics of pest Lepidoptera (Bangkok, May 2007), a study tour to Australian reference and diagnostic facilities by senior Filipino scientists (October 2006) and training in Australia for Thai and Filipino scientists in pest and disease diagnostic techniques (August and October 2006). In June 2007, Indonesia-Australia Cooperation funds helped to pay for laboratory equipment and reference materials for Indonesia’s principal pest diagnostic laboratory.

We also provided technical assistance to Thailand under the SPSCBP and bilateral programme to support the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. In particular, training in diagnostics improved the technical infrastructure that supports the development of pest lists.

Under the auspices of the ASEAN-Australia Development and Cooperation Programme Plant Health Project, we delivered a workshop on information management in Kuala Lumpur in February 2007. The workshop refined and extended the recommendations on regional standards for pest and disease lists presented to the ASEAN Sectoral Working Group on Crops in 2005-06. The practical training provided to plant health scientists will help them manage surveillance data, assemble pest lists and perform risk analyses.

Market access

The Department provided technical advice during the year to support the maintenance of market access, including for cattle exports to the Republic of Korea. We also supplied input for the review of Australia’s bovine tuberculosis status by the United States and the review of our BSE control measures by the European Commission.

After Japanese authorities detected low levels of fenitrothion residues in Australian canola, we conducted a joint traceback exercise with state authorities. Japan accepted remedial action by the industry to minimise the risk of future residue incidents, and market access has been maintained.

The Department continued to support industry efforts to counter the international campaign against mulesing and live exports conducted by the United States-based group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Outlook for 2007-08

A major focus of the Product Integrity, Animal and Plant Health Division’s work in 2007-08 will be the development of a replacement programme for the Securing the Future initiative, which is due to end in June 2008.

Preparedness activities will include regional analyses of potential FMD outbreak scenarios and their control under the National EAD Action Plan, and continuing activities to plan responses to HPAI outbreaks. We will continue to develop outcomes from the February 2007 FMD and BSE stakeholder workshops and continue investigations into several pig diseases.

We expect to respond to the ANAO’s audit of AUSVETPLAN and to develop management and cost-sharing arrangements for national aquatic animal health.

We will strengthen our working relationships with the Department of Health and Ageing, AusAID, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and other agencies to work on animal and human diseases, including zoonoses, and changes to disease threats resulting from climate change.

Work on plant pests will optimise responses to incursions and clarify obligations under the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed. We expect to make significant progress on national plant health strategies and their integration with AusBIOSEC policy and principles.

Our work with neighbours under the SPS Capacity Building Programme will include further workshops, surveys and the development of strategic plans for national pest reference collections.

Table 13 Output 5 performance, 2006-07

Output 5 objective

To minimise the impact of pests, diseases and contaminants on Australian agriculture, fisheries and forestry, and to contribute to the health and welfare of production animals, and the health and protection of plants.

Output component: A stronger framework and capacity for managing and responding to pest, disease and contaminant emergency incidents. Continued maintenance of Australia’s highly favourable pest and disease free status.

Performance measures

Practical support from state and territory governments and non government stakeholders for the implementation of animal health, plant health, animal welfare and production input risk management. Early intervention and response to emergency incidents. Continued progress in eradication campaigns. Positive feedback on national simulation exercises, through formal evaluation processes.

Performance

We strengthened incident management and response by:

  • improving our preparedness and applying the lessons learned from national simulations and real incidents
  • strengthening national avian influenza diagnostic capacity
  • providing training assistance to the Rapid Response Team and Exercise Wild Boar
  • providing support to laboratory simulation Exercise Lester (a component of Exercise Hippolytus)
  • promoting international collaboration through the Quads Emergency Management Group on disease modelling, carcase disposal, foresighting, compartmentalisation and the further development of an international animal health reserve
  • funding and participating in emergency animal disease (EAD) awareness workshops for private veterinary practitioners in four states
  • reviewing the EAD recognition course conducted by the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) for field veterinarians
  • contributing policy and technical advice to new and revised AUSVETPLAN manuals
  • sending 32 Australian Veterinary Reserve (AVR) members to specialised EAD workshops at the annual Australian Veterinary Association Conference
  • adding 80 people to the now 300 strong pool of accredited public relations officers trained for roles in major pest and disease emergencies
  • contributing to the AAHL Strategic Policy Group
  • working with Plant Health Australia to deliver training and awareness activities for all Australian governments and industry signatories to the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD)
  • finalising guidelines for urban responses to an emergency plant pest, for inclusion in Plant Plan as an annex
  • capturing lessons from each emergency response for analysis and inclusion in Plant Plan, as appropriate
  • implementing the EPPRD to ensure that the Australian Government’s obligations are fully met.

Output component: Influence and advance the development of international animal health, plant health and food standards to decrease the threat of pests and diseases from countries impacting on Australian agricultural, fisheries and forestry industries. Contribute to the faster resolution of technical market access problems and strengthening of Australia’s own domestic food standards setting arrangements.

Performance measures

The provision of timely and accurate advice to trading partners and international forums.

The degree to which Australia’s representations are accepted in bilateral or multilateral negotiations and the extent to which these outcomes match Australia’s objectives.

Progress in developing the ability of neighbouring countries to manage their agricultural, fishery and forestry pests, diseases and contaminants.

Performance

During the year, the Department influenced international standards through:

  • participating in the World Organisation for Animal Health (formerly the Office International des Epizooties, or OIE), including by commenting on technical standards, attending the annual general session, membership of three ad hoc and working groups, and presidency of the Aquatic Animal Health Standards Commission, the OIE Regional Commission for Asia, the Far East and Oceania, and the OIE Subcommission for Foot and Mouth Disease in South East Asia
  • participating in the Animal Health Quadrilateral Group at meetings in New Zealand, the United States and France, and in out of session work
  • participating in the Plant Health Quadrilateral Group at its meeting in New Zealand and in out of session work, including collaborative projects
  • participating in the Food Safety Quadrilateral Group in New Zealand
  • developing whole of-government positions on all technical and policy issues discussed in Codex, and thus contributing to international standards that are based on sound science and promote fair practices in the food trade
  • chairing the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems
  • participating in the International Plant Protection Convention (IPCC), including coordinating national comments on draft standards, participating in the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures and working with members of the Pacific Plant Protection Organization and the Asia Pacific Plant Protection Commission on regional plant protection matters
  • providing feedback on the IPPC evaluation report and a review of international standard setting processes.
Administered items

Seventeen administered items contributed to Output 5. See Table 14 for performance reporting on individual items


Table 14 Output 5 administered items, 2006-07

Agriculture and Veterinary Chemicals Minor Use Programme 2006–07: $0.13 million

Performance measure

Better access by the community to minor use agricultural and veterinary chemicals through reduced regulatory impediments.

Performance

The Minor Use Liaison Office (MULO), a joint initiative between the Department and the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, was established on 1 August 2006. The MULO has worked with a wide range of specialty cropping industries, the agrochemical industry, researchers and state governments on problematic minor use permits. Over a hundred permits have been reviewed and, with MULO assistance, around 25% of those have been granted (often with slightly modified use patterns).

The MULO also hosted the Minor Use 07—Future Directions Forum to develop consensus on the best future approach to minor use in Australia.

Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration Act) 1992 2006–07: $21.94 million

Performance measure

Compliance with legislation in the collection and disbursement of monies which fund the objectives of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

Performance

The APVMA has a major role in establishing maximum residue limits and other limits for agricultural and veterinary chemicals in food.

In 2006–07, APVMA funds were collected and dispersed in accordance with the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration Act) 1992.

Australian Animal Health Council (Live stock Industries) Funding Act 1996 2006–07: $6.28 million

Performance measure

Compliance with legislation in the collection and disbursement of monies, which fund the objectives of Animal Health Australia.

Performance

Commonwealth legislation imposes levies on a range of rural commodities and products to fund work by Animal Health Australia. The Department disbursed $6.28 million during the year in accordance with the Australian Animal Health Council (Live stock Industries) Funding Act 1996, within 1% of budget.

Australian Animal Welfare Strategy 2006–07: $0.97 million

Performance measures

Increased community awareness and acceptance of the importance of sound animal welfare standards and practices. Enhanced scientific knowledge for the development of animal welfare codes and practices. New national reporting and monitoring systems for animal welfare.

Performance

During 2006–07, the Department continued to build community awareness and acceptance of the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS) through presentations, news articles, our website, special events and participation in conferences. With the assistance of AAWS working group members and other stakeholders, we updated an AAWS information kit for use by the advisory committee, the working group and overseas posts. An independent AAWS website, to be launched in early 2007–08, was designed and developed. The website will be a key plank in the newly developed AAWS National Communication Strategy.

Research to underpin the development of codes and practices included:

  • funding Animal Health Australia’s development of a business plan to convert Model Codes of Practice for Animal Welfare to Australian Animal Welfare Standards, including establishing a communications template to engage stakeholders and generate feedback when animal welfare arrangements are updated
  • examinations of scientific knowledge to underpin the development of animal welfare codes and practices, and of new national reporting and monitoring systems for animal welfare, both to be completed over the 2007–08 and 2008–09 financial years.

Citrus Canker Eradication Programme 2006–07: $0.62 million

Performance measure

Delivery of agreed activities as specified in the national eradication strategy to achieve eradication of this virulent bacterial disease, to mitigate its potential impact on Australia’s citrus industry.

Performance

The programme to eliminate citrus canker from the Emerald region of Queensland remains on track. Progress in the programme is measured through reviews by the national consultative committee, including the National Management Group, and by external review.

All highly susceptible commercial hosts were removed from the quarantine zone. A host free period was enforced to the end of June 2007, and replanting of commercial citrus began the following month. The plants will be inspected every 90 days over the next 18 months; if no citrus canker is detected, the disease will be considered to be eradicated in early 2009.

Commonwealth contribution to the operating costs of Animal Health Australia 2006–07: $1.11 million

Performance measure

Delivery of agreed annual programme and activities outlined in the Animal Health Australia (AHA) strategic plan.

Performance

The Department is an active member of AHA, particularly in relation to governance and strategic planning. We analyse and consider AHA’s business plans, including the annual operational plan. A departmental officer was the Australian Government representative at the AHA annual general meeting on 9 November 2006 and special general meeting on 30 May 2007.

Departmental officers participated in a workshop in May 2007 as part of a five year review of the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement to make response arrangements more efficient and effective. All parties continue to support the agreement strongly, seeing it as a cornerstone of the national animal health system.

During 2006–07, AHA core programmes (including programmes for training, animal health services, animal disease surveillance, and emergency animal disease preparedness) operated effectively.

Eradication of Red Imported Fire Ant 2006–07: $5.14 million

Performance measure

Delivery of agreed baiting and surveillance activities as specified in the national eradication strategy to achieve eradication of this invasive pest, to reduce its potential impact on Australia’s agricultural sector.

Performance

Progress for this item is measured through review by the national consultative committee and by external review. The results are reported to the Natural Resources Management Ministerial Council.

The eradication programme remains on track and is being delivered in line with the emergency response plan agreed by the council. Isolated outlier colonies have been found and treated. Community awareness of the programme, which is vital to success, remains high.

The results of a June 2006 scientific evaluation and operational review of the programme have been used to help determine further actions necessary to find and eradicate ‘the final ant’.

Exotic Disease Preparedness Programme 2006–07: $0.30 million

Performance measure

Delivery of agreed activities and regular reports through the wildlife disease network.

Performance

The Wildlife Exotic Disease Preparedness Programme improves EAD preparedness by developing strategies to monitor, prevent, control or eradicate EADs in wildlife and feral animals.

The programme emphasises improving wildlife surveillance through the Australian Wildlife Health Network. The network’s website (http://www.wildlifehealth.org.au/AWHN) and database report current, useful and appropriate wildlife health information. The Department receives progressive and final reports on programme projects, which in 2006–07 included research into the movement of birds across Torres Strait, improving the handling of avian samples to the laboratory and screening for variant Newcastle disease viruses in wildlife.

International Organisations Contributions 2006–07: $0.15 million

Performance measure

Payment of Australian Government membership to the World Organisation for Animal Health to allow Australian Government representation in this important forum.

Performance

The Department has paid Australia’s annual membership contribution to the World Organisation for Animal Health.

National Cattle Disease Eradication—Interest on Special Account 2006–07: $0.60 million

Performance measure

Payment of an amount to the National Cattle Disease Eradication Special Account to provide equivalent of interest earnings.

Performance

In 2006–07, the Department managed a payment of $0.60 million to the special account, equivalent to the estimated interest earnings on the account. This follows a whole of-government review of investment activities and related delegations under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997, which revoked the delegation to invest funds on behalf of the account.

National Cattle Disease Eradication Trust Account Act 1991

Performance measure

Compliance with legislation in the collection and disbursement of monies for the purposes of the National Cattle Disease Eradication Special Account.

Performance

The funds in the National Cattle Disease Eradication Special Account have been raised through industry levies and charges and through investments of amounts standing to the credit of the account. The account funded activities related to surveillance for and eradication of bovine tuberculosis.

As the Tuberculosis Freedom Assurance Programme was ending on 31 December 2006, the cattle and buffalo industries asked that residual funds in the National Cattle Disease Eradication Trust Account ($10.48 million) be transferred into the more broadly based Cattle Disease Contingency Fund, which is managed by trustees on behalf of the Australian cattle industry.

Parliament amended the National Cattle Disease Eradication Account Act in 2006 to enable this to happen. A deed of transfer was agreed by the parties and signed in June 2007 to ensure transparent accountability arrangements for the use of the funds.

National Livestock Identification System 2006–07: $4.99 million

Performance measure

Establishment of a nationally integrated system for livestock traceability as a management tool to deal with animal disease emergencies and food safety issues associated with meat.

Performance

The Australian Government has committed $20 million to the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) over three years.

During 2006–07, the National Review Committee—Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), the Department and the Cattle Council of Australia—continued to ensure that allocations to the states and territories for NLIS (Cattle) met the funding guidelines established by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Expenditure to date for each state followed the state’s approved business plan: Queensland ($4.05 million), New South Wales ($2.28 million), Victoria ($1.5 million), Western Australia ($0.71 million), the Northern Territory ($0.47 million), South Australia ($0.47 million), Tasmania ($0.18 million).

MLA continued to administer $1.46 million for NLIS (Sheep and Goats), and Australian Pork Ltd administered $0.88 million for NLIS (Pigs). $1 million has also been spent on the NLIS database, which is managed by MLA.

The contracts with MLA and funding agreements with states are ongoing. All funds will be expended by the end of the 2007–08 financial year.

National Residue Survey Administration Act 1992 2006–07: $7.30 million

Performance measure

Compliance with legislation in the collection and disbursement of monies which fund the objectives of the National Residue Survey.

Performance

The National Residue Survey (NRS) supports market access for participating industries by providing residue-testing services and scientific and policy advice on residues and contaminants. The NRS also supports industries’ quality assurance projects and supports industry and government in resolving residue-related trade incidents. The Department is responsible for the administration, collection and disbursement of levies imposed by legislation on a range of commodities and products to pay for NRS activity.

Other Exotic Disease Preparedness Programme—Bill 1 2006–07: $0.55 million

Performance measure

Delivery of agreed activities which enhance Australia’s preparedness for exotic animal diseases, including the ongoing involvement of non government veterinarians in national EAD preparedness and surveillance activities through the Australian Veterinary Reserve.

Performance

During 2006–07, a number of Rapid Response Team members were replaced by 19 new members, bringing the current membership to 48. The new members completed induction training in February 2007, and all members took part in a professional development workshop in Adelaide in March. Planning began for Exercise Wild Boar, which will be held in Darwin in September–November 2007. The Department contributed to induction and professional development activities and has helped to plan for Exercise Wild Boar.

During 2006–07, we developed the Australian Veterinary Reserve (AVR) Maintenance and Development Programme, which is designed to maintain the membership, commitment and skills currency of the AVR’s 100 non government veterinarian members across Australia. Under the programme:

  • AVR members participated in local jurisdictional EAD exercises in South Australia and Victoria
  • 32 AVR members attended specialised AVR EAD workshop sessions on avian influenza, new and emerging EADs and bluetongue at the annual Australian Veterinary Association Conference in Melbourne
  • all members received a fortnightly electronic update on local and international EAD related issues.

Other Exotic Disease Preparedness Programme—Bill 2 2006–07: $0.84 million

Performance measure

Awareness of exotic animal disease in the veterinary community through publication of EAD Bulletins in the Australian Veterinary Journal.

Performance

During the year, accurate and useful EAD Bulletins were published quarterly in the Australian Veterinary Journal, generating greater awareness of EAD issues among veterinarians and other animal health workers.

We also supported state and territory authorities to run practitioner workshops on diagnostic procedures for EADs, resulting in greater national field veterinary capacity. Workshops were held in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.

Payment to CSIRO—Contribution to the operating costs of the Australian Animal Health Laboratory 2006–07: $7.00 million

Performance measure

Delivery of agreed annual programme and activities that enhance diagnostic capability for emerging animal diseases.

Performance

The Department funded the Australian Animal Health Laboratory’s core operating costs for approximately $7.00 million in 2006–07. Activities included:

  • maintaining and operating a microbiologically secure facility
  • maintaining and operating a diagnostic service for EADs (including exotic and new and emerging diseases)
  • providing technical advice and support to a range of government bodies (including the Department and the states and territories)
  • providing education and training in support of pre border, border and post border quarantine.

Securing the Future: Protecting our Industries from Biological, Chemical and Physical Risks 2006–07: $3.06 million

Performance measure

Completion of agreed activities to enhance Australia’s animal and plant health infrastructure and capacity to respond to emergencies including through:

  • critical infrastructure protection activities
  • improved biosecurity awareness
  • improved national preparedness for emergency pests and diseases
  • implementation of obligations under the International Conventions for Chemicals
  • enhancement of the national capacity to respond to EADs
  • enhanced emergency pest response capacity and ability to define plant health status
  • enhancement of diagnostic capacity and national plant health surveillance capacity
  • mitigating the impact of invasive species through improved early detection and rapid response to plant health invasive species.
Performance

During 2006–07, we satisfactorily completed work on many agreed activities under the Securing the Future budget initiative, including:

  • improving national preparedness for EADs through building and testing diagnostic capacity for aquatic animal diseases and support for the Australian Wildlife Health Network
  • enhancing national capacity to respond to EADs through work to update AUSVETPLAN and AQUAVETPLAN manuals and to produce other reference material
  • improving biosecurity awareness by providing scholarships to support four Masters students in the Veterinary Public Health Management programme at Sydney University
  • increasing the content and quality of information in the Australian Plant Pest Database and ease of access to the database
  • enhancing the national plant health surveillance network with the launch of a surveillance reporting tool
  • continuing a hazard site surveillance protocol in the major urban area of each of seven jurisdictions, to identify high risk sites for the introduction and spread of new plant pests
  • producing 13 diagnostic protocols for emergency plant pests, and finalising the online Pest and Diseases Image Library for all emergency plant pests in the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed
  • awarding 10 training scholarships for diagnosticians from national and state agencies to develop skills in key plant diseases and pests
  • finalising national guidelines for pest and weed incursions, including in urban environments, for appending to Plant Plan
  • contributing to the effective governance of Plant Health Australia, and paying the Australian Government’s 2006–07 subscription of $750,000.

Previous page | Contents | Next page