Legislative Council: Wednesday, March 22, 2023


PIRSA, Biosecurity

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (15:18): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Will the minister update the chamber about the importance of the recent additions to the biosecurity division at PIRSA?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:19): I thank the honourable member for his question and his ongoing interest in this very important issue of biosecurity. Certainly on this side of the chamber, and hopefully across the entire chamber, we understand the importance of biosecurity and the need to deal with constant threats that are emerging of emergency animal diseases. I'm therefore delighted to update the council on the recent additions to the biosecurity division of PIRSA, increasing the technical expertise of the department to assist with managing the ongoing risk of emergency animal diseases.

PIRSA has just completed the recruitment of four new veterinarians, with more veterinarians and animal health officers currently being recruited to assist with the ongoing risk of emergency animal diseases. The first four new vets have joined the epidemiology and risk team and will work on preparedness activities relating to emerging animal diseases, along with supporting the development of overall epidemiological capacity and collaborating with industry and SA Health for the ongoing management of Japanese encephalitis.

I am advised that these new veterinarians are based in Adelaide, with the next stage of recruitment from the EAD funding to include two veterinarians and two animal health officers in our regions, where of course it is most likely that we would see an emergency animal disease outbreak occur.

As members would be aware, the large influx of additional biosecurity staff will be a result of the additional resourcing that I announced last year when I was joined by Livestock SA and the South Australian Dairyfarmers' Association. The additional $6.8 million over four years will ensure that South Australia is well prepared to combat the increased risk of emergency animal diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease, African swine fever and lumpy skin disease.

This additional funding to protect our state against emergency animal diseases does not just cover of course the cost of new veterinarians but also the purchase of mobile laboratory facilities for rural areas; training in response activities, such as disposal and decontamination; purchase of emergency response units, including equipment for quarantine, sampling and decontamination; and additional animal health staff for operational and laboratory preparedness.

This significant investment in preparedness and response capacity is crucial to protecting our primary producer industry, which contributes billions of dollars to the state's economy every year. We know that an EAD outbreak would take years to recover from and the impact on both trade markets and our regional communities would be significant. This government has responded to the increased threat of an emergency animal disease outbreak and acted accordingly. I look forward to continuing to update this place about the government's continued commitment to biosecurity.