Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 08, 2023



The Hon. I. PNEVMATIKOS (14:55): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Will the minister please inform the chamber how the government is managing biosecurity and emergency animal disease preparedness?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:55): I thank the honourable member for her question, because it is indeed imperative that Australia has a strong and resilient biosecurity system to effectively prevent, prepare for and respond to these threats. We know that the impact of an emergency animal disease such as foot-and-mouth disease would have a devastating impact on the state's economy, including predicted job losses of over 8,000 workers in the primary production sector and processing sector, and billions of dollars lost.

In recent years, there has been a heightened risk of emergency animal diseases, and that is why we have been working closely with industry to announce a package that will ensure South Australia is well placed to respond if ever required. Complex and interconnected international trade routes with increasing volumes of international trade, shifting climate and environmental conditions are all factors in the increasing biosecurity threats faced by Australia.

Therefore, I was delighted to have the opportunity late last year to stand with Livestock SA and the South Australian Dairyfarmers' Association to announce that the Malinauskas Labor government will invest $6.8 million over four years to help South Australia combat the increased risk of emergency animal diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease, African swine fever and lumpy skin disease, among others. I am proud that this government is taking biosecurity seriously and providing significant investment in our primary production industry.

The funds will ensure South Australia is prepared for and able to respond to any incursions. It will include EAD preparedness for the development and testing of procedures for large-scale response activities, such as disposal and decontamination; the purchase of three emergency response trailers for rapid deployment, including equipment, to immediately quarantine affected properties and undertake sampling and decontamination; training, including of participating and supporting agencies and industry representatives, to effectively participate in response activities; engagement with the private veterinary network to develop a workforce plan, particularly including regional components; and managing and delivering scenario exercises to ensure EAD preparedness and emergency arrangements remain current.

It will also provide funding for epidemiology and risk assessment, specifically additional primary technical expertise to analyse disease data and direct response activities; prediction of disease spread and devising of effective control measures; and provision of technical analysis in a timely manner to inform decision-making.

It will also provide diagnostic capacity: the procurement of mobile laboratory facilities for rapid diagnostic services, including the purchase of point-of-care testing machines for use in rural areas; the upgrading of digital connectivity between the Australian Centre for Disease Control and state laboratory services VetLab at Glenside; a developing capability for rapid escalation of disease testing and proof of freedom surveillance testing; and the management and delivery of scenario exercises to ensure EAD preparedness for laboratory testing logistics and new testing methodologies are operationally ready for use in the event of outbreaks.

It will also provide disease surveillance, increasing veterinary and animal health capacity for early detection, including training and engagement of livestock producers, vets and other supply chain stakeholders. Emergency response capability and capacity will be increased, including expertise to undertake training needs analysis and deliver training in the Australasian Inter-service Incident Management System to PIRSA and other staff across government, participating organisations and private vets, and additional capacity to provide expertise that can be drawn upon in the event of a future response.

EAD prevention and early detection are core priorities for PIRSA, in addition to being prepared to respond to these diseases should they be detected in Australia. The state government is working closely with the commonwealth, state and territory departments, Animal Health Australia, and state and national peak industry bodies to continually improve Australia's biosecurity systems to address these evolving threats.