Tasmania’s biosecurity system which protects the environment along with the agricultural and tourism industries from pests and diseases will change at the state’s border crossings following the conclusion of a pilot program.
Biosecurity Tasmania acted swiftly and decisively, implementing additional protections through a pilot program at borders and undertaking an extensive communications blitz to increase traveller awareness last year when Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) was detected in Bali. This included the employment of additional fixed-term department staff to provide specific FMD border protection and the implementation of sanitation mats.
The pilot was implemented as a precautionary measure while the Australian Government tightened its border processes.
NRE Tas recently engaged an independent expert, Dr Hugh Millar to review the pilot program. The review concluded that there is no justification for continuing the program as the risk of FMD is very low in Tasmania due to the international screening process undertaken by the Australian Government.
Dr Millar, a former Chief Veterinary Officer Victoria and Executive Director for Biosecurity Victoria, also concluded the biosecurity screening process at all points of entry to the state undertaken by Biosecurity Tasmania is sufficient to manage risk, including from passengers arriving from Indonesia.
He did however recommend that prevention through continued investment in compliance and awareness, was important to early detection.
Dr Millar was accompanied by a representative of the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association who supported ceasing the pilot subject to the outcomes of the review.
The Tasmanian Government has accepted the findings and recommendations from the review, but will continue to take a precautionary approach to ensure the security of our biosecurity system.
As a result, the FMD pilot will end this month, but our commitment to protecting the state from biosecurity risk will continue. Five new, permanent, full-time Biosecurity Inspectors will be recruited in the coming months to bolster our biosecurity efforts and will be directly employed to maintain community awareness and compliance.
Seven staff will also be extended in their current roles to maintain critical tracing and engagement functions across the agricultural sectors. These positions include mail centre biosecurity inspector(s), traceability program coordinator, emergency animal disease training officer, animal health officer, veterinary liaison and stakeholder engagement.
More information and the report are available at: Independent Review of Tasmania's FMD Border Pilot Project.