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Australia has a world class biosecurity system, but as long as international trade and people movements occur, there will always be a risk of new plant pests entering the country. Pests can also be spread to Australia through natural means, such as wind and water currents.
An essential part of Australia’s plant biosecurity system is to rapidly eradicate or contain an incursion of an exotic plant pest. Biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility, and growers are at the frontline in reporting suspect pests and diseases in their crops.
Since October 2005, Plant Health Australia (PHA) has been the custodian of the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (the Deed, or EPPRD), a formal, legally binding agreement between PHA, the Australian Government, all state and territory governments, and PHA’s industry members.
The Deed binds industries and governments to a formal incursion response, sharing the responsibility and costs, based on a pre-agreed assessment of the relative private and public benefits of eradication.
PLANTPLAN, which is part of the Deed, outlines the agreed technical response plan used in the event of an incursion by an emergency plant pest. It outlines the roles of industry and governments in the decision making and operational processes of eradication responses. Industry signatories have a direct say on whether responses to plant pest incursions will occur and, if so, a clear role in decision making and funding these responses.
Emergency plant pests are categorised into four groups based solely on the public versus private benefit of eradication for government and industry parties, not the importance of the pest or the likelihood of eradication. For example, the response to an incursion of a category 1 pest, with a high level of impact on the public (like Sudden oak death), is 100% government funded. Whereas for a category 4 pest (like Western plant bug), with a greater degree of private impact, it’s 20% government and 80% industry funded.
Growers may be eligible for reimbursement of specific costs that result from an approved pest eradication response.
Generally, crops that incur a levy are covered under the Deed, but check with your industry to make sure. This is an important protection but one that is not guaranteed for members of non-signatory industries.
Reimbursement payments (Owner Reimbursement Costs; ORCs) may be made for costs incurred as a result of the implementation of an approved Response Plan. This may cover direct grower costs or losses caused by the destruction of crops, enforced fallow periods, replacement of trees and additional chemical treatments.
Calculation of reimbursements is done using different formulae, depending on the affected crops. For example, the ‘Perennial Trees’ formula is used for fruit tree crops. To ensure that the calculations for reimbursement are accurate, growers should keep records of the yield and value of their crops.
PHA Foundation Course – provides a summary of the Australian biosecurity system and how emergency responses to plant pests are managed under the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed.
National EPP Response Management – introduces the purpose of the Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests and the National Management Group, the roles and responsibilities of and their members, and the decision making process in an incident.
Pest Reporting and Responses – a short course focusing on a grower’s role in reporting and responses. It provides information on how to report and what may happen after you do. A fact sheet summarising some of the key information from the course is available.
Bee Biosecurity Awareness – a short awareness course that adds to the Biosecurity Manual for the Honey Bee Industry. It provides an introduction to biosecurity best practice, hive inspections, surveillance, moving hives and how to report a suspect Emergency Plant Pest.
Managing giant pine scale in Victoria – a short awareness course developed by Agriculture Victoria to provide information about giant pine scale: a scale insect that lives by sucking the sap of pine, fir and spruce trees, sometimes killing the tree. The course introduces the impacts of the pest, signs to look out for and strategies to minimise its spread.
Biosecurity for Beekeepers – provides advice on keeping honey bees healthy using industry best practice. This course supports the Australian Honey Bee Industry Code of Practice and is one way to meet the training requirement of the Code. (Please note: this course is on a different site to the other BOLT courses.)
If you are a registered beekeeper you will need a token to do this course for free. If you don’t have a token you will need to pay $20 (or $40 if you are overseas). Once you are on the login page for the Biosecurity for Beekeepers course, there are a few simple steps to enrol, and then you will be able to access and complete the course. If you need more help, a step by step guide to get started is available in the Biosecurity for Beekeepers fact sheet.