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Work programme

Inspector-General of Biosecurity (IGB): Three year review plan


The IGB took up duty on 25 July 2016 for a three-year term and has developed a review program as required under the Biosecurity Act 2015. The Act specifies that the IGB may review the performance of functions, or exercise of powers, by biosecurity officials, including the Director of Biosecurity, who is the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR). This review program will be over and above the internal audit and performance management programs of DAWR.

Consultations with senior DAWR staff and key stakeholder organisations have identified some key strategic topics for review during the three-year period. These are listed below with the assumption that further topics will be identified; that the topics and scope may be modified as further consultation proceeds; and that further reviews may be required as external needs arise.

This indicative three-year program has been presented to, and endorsed by, the Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources and the Director of Biosecurity. The current program for 2016–17 is outlined below and may be modified as required throughout the year. Under the legislation a further program for 2017–18 will be published before the end of this financial year.

During 2016–17, the IGB will undertake the following reviews:

  1. A review of the biosecurity risk management lessons that can be drawn from an analysis of recent (up to 10 years’) terrestrial pest and disease incursions, border breaches and high-risk interceptions into Australia, as well as considering information from other QUAD countries (Canada, New Zealand and USA).

    This review will identify features and insights that are shared across multiple incursions, both in Australia and overseas, such as:

    • the contributing factors to successful pre-border and border interceptions, and incursion prevention;
    • the actual and potential consequences of past incursions, barrier breaches and interceptions;
    • the department’s mechanisms to share information on interceptions with other public and private bodies responsible for biosecurity, especially State and Territory agencies;
    • the response times to act in barrier breaches and incursions especially where the entry pathway has been established; and
    • lessons learnt and system improvements already made or needed in response to incursions, barrier breaches and interceptions.

  2. A review of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ management of biosecurity risks posed by invasive vector mosquitoes, especially Aedes spp., entering or establishing in Australia.

    This review will consider:

    • how the Department is responding to biosecurity risks/disease threats posed by invasive vector mosquitoes entering into Australia through various pathways especially via airports; and
    • how the Department coordinates its responses to these biosecurity risks with the Federal Department of Health, state/territory agencies and industry stakeholders.

  3. A review of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ management of the risks posed by “hitchhikers and contaminants” (biosecurity risk material) associated with cargo containers, transport methods and conveyances (for example, vessels and aircraft).

    This review will cover:

    • how the department identifies and manages the biosecurity risks associated with cargo containers and transport methods used to import goods into Australia (including the adequacy of the department’s pre-border biosecurity measures such as container cleanliness program);
    • biosecurity arrangements between the Australian Government, port authorities and the commercial operators within and beyond the port areas; and
    • disruption of international trade systems through new technologies and processes.

  4. A review of the effectiveness of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ management of biosecurity risks posed by returning Australian forces after offshore deployment and foreign defence forces engaged in military activities in Australian territories.

    This review will consider:

    • the mechanisms and support provided by the department to the Australian Department of Defence and overseas military organisations and how this contributes to achieving a commitment to biosecurity principles by Australian and foreign defence organisations, and
    • the adequacy and practicality of the biosecurity risk management measures and the mechanisms to ensure compliance with their implementation by defence organisations.

Further topics have been identified for review in subsequent years:

  1. A review of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ response to changing global trade patterns and their impact on biosecurity risks. The review may include consideration of the impacts of:

    1. the emergence of new supply markets and changing international supply arrangements between trading partners and how they change the pathways that represent high biosecurity risks for goods; and
    2. the global movements of pests and diseases into new locations.

      This review will address how the department is planning for and positioning itself to respond to emerging changes in international trade and the increasing pace of pests and diseases being transferred to new locations.

  2. A review of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ recognition of pre-border certification (including the role of overseas competent authorities) as a biosecurity risk mitigation measure.

    This review will consider:

    • the department’s reliance on the overseas certifying bodies/authorities (that is, recognition of third-party quality assurance systems);
    • how certification is used by the department in its risk assessment and decision making at the border;
    • the issue of fraudulent certificates impacting the department’s efforts to manage biosecurity; and
    • how the level of certification aligns with international trade facilitation and Australian government’s obligations.

  3. A review of the effectiveness of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ use of ‘end use’ import conditions in managing identified risks.

    This review will consider:

    • the decision-making processes that determine if end-use requirements are to apply;
    • whether end use import conditions such as ‘for human consumption only’ or ‘for in vitro use only’ are effectively managing the relevant biosecurity risks;
    • biosecurity risks associated with diversion of goods to other unintended end use(s); and
    • the enforceability of and mechanisms for ensuring compliance with specific end use provisions.

  4. A review of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ role in enhancing national animal and plant biosecurity scientific capability across production and environmental areas, including:

    1. availability of skills and expertise now and into the future;
    2. determining the opportunity for supporting the improvement of national  testing capability, including use of advanced detection technologies (where available) for quicker detection and responses; and
    3. participation in and contribution to domestic and international scientific networks.

      This review will consider:

      • how the department can contribute to ensuring that Australia will have access to suitable diagnostic capability to meet its animal and plant biosecurity needs; and
      • current and emerging challenges, as well as potential responses to these challenges.

  5. A review of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ management of biosecurity risks posed by imported goods produced from materials originating from multiple sources via complex supply chains. The review may consider:

    1. traceability of material through the supply chain and the consequential integrity of the finished product(s); and
    2. recognition of Approved Arrangements within Australia as biosecurity risk management mechanisms.

      This review will consider how the department is responding to the increasing complexity of manufactured products and the associated supply chains. This includes how the department achieves confidence about the biosecurity risks that may be present in the product and how these risks are being addressed by the manufacturer and in their underlying supply chain. The review will also consider how the department recognises the contribution of quality assurance programs to biosecurity risk management.

  6. A review of how effectively high-risk environmental biosecurity concerns are addressed within the broader biosecurity system, with a particular focus on identifying gaps in pathway and risk analyses and on improving information gathering and sharing between jurisdictions.

    This review was recommended by the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee in its report on Environmental Biosecurity (May 2015).