Inspector-General of Biosecurity: Updated three-year review plan
The IGB took up duty on 25 July 2016 for a three-year term and 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 is over and above the internal audit and performance management programs of DAWR.
Consultations with senior DAWR staff and key stakeholder organisations identified key strategic topics for review during the three-year term of the Inspector-General’s appointment. These were selected with the assumption that further topics might be identified; that the topics and scope might be modified as further consultation proceeds; and that further reviews might be required as external needs arise.
The indicative three-year program was presented to, and endorsed by, the Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources and the Director of Biosecurity in September 2016.
The original plan was modified in February 2017 by the inclusion of an additional review on uncooked prawn imports which was completed in December 2017. This substantially delayed progress with the rest of the review program.
In February 2018, the original review plan was revisited in consultation with senior executives of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. A summary progress report and reprioritised plan is set out below. It is most unlikely that all the reviews listed will be able to be completed in the current IGB term but they are retained as indicative topics of which review is desirable.
A. Completed reviews
1. Invasive vector mosquito management—report published May 2017
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 considered:
- 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.
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Uncooked prawn imports—report published December 2017
A review of the circumstances leading to the 2017 suspension of uncooked prawn imports into Australia and the biosecurity considerations relevant to future trade in uncooked prawns.
The importation of uncooked prawns into Australia was suspended on 6 January 2017 following the outbreak of White Spot Disease in commercial prawn farms near the Logan River in December 2016. The review considered:
- the effectiveness of biosecurity controls and their implementation for managing the biosecurity risks of importation of uncooked prawns and prawn meat into Australia;
- the effectiveness of post-entry surveillance measures and 'end use' import conditions for uncooked prawns and prawn meat into Australia; and
- areas for improvement in the biosecurity risk management framework and its implementation for future trade in prawns and related seafood.
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B. Reviews underway at February 2018
3. Hitchhikers and contaminants
A review of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ management of the risks posed by hitchhikers and contaminants 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 the sea 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. Interceptions and incursions
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 high-risk interceptions, border breaches and incursions into Australia.
This review may identify features and insights that are shared across multiple interceptions and incursions, such as:
- the contributing factors to successful pre-border and border interceptions, and incursion prevention;
- the department’s mechanisms to manage and share information on interceptions with other public and private bodies responsible for biosecurity, especially State and Territory agencies; and
- lessons learnt and system improvements already made or needed in response to interceptions, barrier breaches and incursions.
C. Reviews to be commenced by June 2018
5. Military biosecurity
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.
6. Implementation of previous (I)IGB review recommendations
Previous Interim Inspectors-General conducted 33 reviews or audits of various aspects of biosecurity risk management between 2010 and 2016. 11 of these reviews related to horse importation.
The IGB will review how the department ensures that recommendations arising from these reviews, other than those on horse importation, have been properly considered and implemented and that wider lessons from selected reviews have informed ongoing reform of Australia’s biosecurity system. All reviews other than those relating to horse importation will be considered.
Horse importation – previous IIGB review recommendations
A review of current biosecurity risk management practices for horse importation.
The IGB will review how the lessons from the 11 previous reviews and audits on horse importation have informed the department’s current practice to ensure excellent biosecurity outcomes along this high risk pathway.
8. Environmental biosecurity
A review of how the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ processes of managing biosecurity risks address high-risk environmental biosecurity concerns.
This review was recommended by the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee in its report on Environmental Biosecurity (May 2015), and will examine:
- how the department participates in the broader biosecurity system to address environmental biosecurity concerns, and
- processes to identify gaps in pathway and risk analyses and to improve information gathering and sharing between jurisdictions, in relation to environmental biosecurity.
D. Reviews to be commenced in 2018-19
9. Pre-border biosecurity certification
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 use case studies on high-risk goods (such as beef, horticultural produce and / or seafood) to consider:
- the department’s reliance on overseas certifying bodies/authorities and recognition of offshore 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.
10. Complexity of supply chains
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:
- traceability of material through the supply chain and the consequential integrity of the finished product(s); and
- processes for 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; and
- recognises the contribution of quality assurance programs to biosecurity risk management.
11. End-use conditions
A review of the effectiveness of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ use of ‘end use’ import conditions for high-risk goods 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 deliberate diversion of goods to other higher risk end use(s); and
- the enforceability of and mechanisms for ensuring compliance with specific end use provisions.
E. Reviews which may be deferred beyond the current IGB term
12. Scientific capability
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:
- availability of skills and expertise now and into the future;
- 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
- participation in and contribution to domestic and international scientific networks.
This review will consider:
13. Global trade and biosecurity
- 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.
A review of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ response to changing global trade patterns and their impact on biosecurity risks.
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. The review may include consideration of the impacts of:
- 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
- the global movements of pests and diseases into new locations.
Last updated: 17 April 2018