Biosecurity talks

Today I met with Queensland Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne to discuss the challenges faced by Australia's biosecurity framework.

The former Federal Labor Government led the reform of Australia's biosecurity laws but more needs to be done to protect Australia's reputation as a provider of clean, green and safe product.

The conversation follows the recent outbreak of White Spot disease in Queensland's prawn farming sector, our worst biosecurity failure in many decades.

A recent Senate committee inquiry confirmed serious failings at the Commonwealth level. It also revealed that the Commonwealth Department withheld vital information about non-compliance at our borders it should have shared with the Queensland Government many months earlier.

Industry leaders have also expressed deep concern about the failings. The outbreak has been a multi-million dollar burden on the sector.

Commonwealth-State cooperation must be strengthened and improved and I plan to hold similar discussions with other state ministers.

I acknowledge the Queensland Government's swift and comprehensive response to the outbreak in circumstances more challenging than were necessary.

Work must be done to ensure we have no repeat of the White Spot disaster.

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