Barnaby Joyce must explain why he has decided to abolish the position of the Inspector General for Biosecurity.

Ensuring our biosecurity regime is the best it can possibly be is critical to both our food security and our capacity to capitalise on the “dining boom”. It is therefore also critical to our farmers.

Yet Barnaby Joyce has re-introduced into the Parliament all of the Biosecurity Bill Labor developed in office, minus the permanent position of the Inspector General for Biosecurity.

The position of Inspector General is an independent statutory office with broad audit and review powers.  It is the independent cop on the beat – ensuring the integrity and transparency of the system.

In the new Bill, Barnaby Joyce has effectively made himself the cop on the beat, a change he has not chosen to make obvious to the Parliament or those with an interest in our biosecurity system.  No one will be feeling reassured.

As Minister for Agriculture I signed off on an interim Inspector General to ensure the appointment was not delayed by the 2013 election. Unfortunately, that interim position expires on 1 July and will not be permanently established as Labor had intended by the Government’s amended Bill.

In the Parliament today I challenged Barnaby Joyce to return to the House and explain in detail, his reasons for abolishing the Inspector General. He must now do so.


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