16 May 2024

Queensland reveals new biosecurity strategy, names ambassadors

| James Day
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Fire Ant

Fire ants were discovered in Australia in Brisbane in 2001 and are one of the targeted species in the new biosecurity strategy. Photo: NSW Dept of Primary Industry.

Twenty of Queensland’s most unwanted pests have been targeted in the government’s second five-year biosecurity strategy, with six ambassadors appointed to spread the message of community vigilance.

Queensland’s proximity to neighbouring countries, extensive coastline, climate and the increased movement of property and people mean it is more vulnerable to such biosecurity threats, from the varroa mite to fire ants.

The Queensland Biosecurity Strategy 2024-29 aims to support the efforts of government, industry and communities in managing and monitoring the threats. It also aligns with the National Biosecurity Strategy 2022-32 which means Queensland’s efforts are coordinated with the rest of the country’s safeguards.

READ ALSO Fire ant biosecurity breach on Defence land threatens multibillion-dollar ag sector

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said while Queensland’s biosecurity system was strong and continued to evolve, the complexity and frequency of biosecurity threats were growing.

“While there are a multitude of biosecurity threats that could impact our state, Biosecurity Queensland does have a ‘hit list’ of ‘unwanted’ plant and animal pests and disease that we are preparing for,” said Minister Furner.

“These include threats that are already on our shores such as varroa mite and banana freckle, to those that are in neighbouring countries such as lumpy skin disease in SE Asia and avian influenza currently detected for the first time in Antarctica.

“Plant and animal pests and diseases don’t respect borders, which is why our strategy highlights that biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility.”

Varroa mites can ravage European bee populations in their hives, while plant diseases, such as Panama TR4, endanger banana crops and animal-borne pathogens such as foot-and-mouth disease threaten cattle.

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Minister Furner commended the six appointed ambassadors who are part of the new strategy. The ‘Biosecurity Mates’ will drive community awareness of Queensland’s ‘most unwanted’ threats and how they can be successfully identified, managed and where possible eradicated.

The Biosecurity Mates ambassadors are:

  • Darling Downs-Moreton Rabbit Board CEO Craig Magnussen
  • Friends of Parks Queensland executive officer Jessica Lovegrove-Walsh
  • Researcher and PhD candidate in aquatic animal health Phoebe Arbon
  • Australian Agricultural Company animal health and welfare advisor Julia Harkin
  • Cape York Weeds and Feral Animals Incorporated CEO Trevor Meldrum
  • Seed Savers Foundation director Jerry Coleby-Williams.

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