Senate debates

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Questions without Notice

Biosecurity

2:55 pm

Photo of Bridget McKenzieBridget McKenzie (Victoria, National Party, Minister for Agriculture) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you very much, Senator Davey, and thank you for championing rural and regional New South Wales in your time here. Australians are well-known for our innovation and for applying new technologies to develop solutions—the black box flight recorder, the electronic pacemaker, Google Maps, the cochlear implant and the medical application of penicillin, to name just a few. The Liberal-National government is tapping into the fantastic Australian innovation culture and collaboration in many spaces to ensure we continue to manage our ever-increasing biosecurity risk.

We have some of the highest biosecurity standards in the world. But the price of pest- and disease-free status is vigilance and a tough biosecurity regime, which is why we as a government have invested over $300 million in improving and updating our biosecurity over the coming years. Hitchhikers, these terrible pests and pathogens that find their way into vessels, bulk cargo and shipping containers, are a particular focus of our biosecurity attentions. Hitchhikers include pests like the red imported fire ant, the giant African snail, the Asian gypsy moth and the brown marmorated stink bug. Read The New Yorker if you want a good read on that one.

Our stringent standards are here to ensure that we keep these pests out, and we're always looking for more innovative ways to help people meet our standards. That's why we've been working with industry to seek innovative solutions with small to medium-sized businesses to develop solutions to those problems through a grants program. Just this week, four companies were awarded grants under the initiative to develop new technologies to detect these hitchhikers on or in our shipping containers, and we look forward the seeing this technology progress and benefit all our border protection and biosecurity efforts.

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