Legislative Council: Tuesday, October 31, 2023


Avian Bird Flu

In reply to the Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) ().28 September 2023).

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I am advised:

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) preparedness is a high priority nationally, and Australian, state and territory governments, and the poultry industry has been preparing for HPAI outbreaks over a long period of time.

The South Australian poultry industry is acutely aware and engaged with respect to the risk of avian influenza, given that avian influenza is an ongoing environmental risk routinely managed by the industry. Poultry enterprises practice a high level of farm biosecurity to prevent spillover of avian influenza from wild birds into commercial flocks. The industry participates in PIRSA's passive disease surveillance program, where sampling of sick birds is undertaken for early detection of a possible HPAI outbreak.

PIRSA is part of a South Australian industry-government poultry health group which engages the diverse poultry industry to share information and discuss current issues on poultry health. This group is aware of the changing risks of HPAI in Australia. HPAI will be on the agenda for discussion at the upcoming SA Poultry Industry Day in November 2023.

South Australia is actively investing in preparedness activities for high threat diseases, including HPAI. Last December, the South Australian government committed $6.8m to enhancing emerging animal disease preparedness, investing in technical expertise and training.

The recent $6.8 million investment of the SA government into EAD preparedness will assist with HPAI preparedness through:

Epidemiology and risk–to enhance epidemiological capacity and technical skills required to support preparedness and effective, informed, flexible responses.

Operational preparedness–to engage in national policy and procedure development and develop state level action plans to enhance operational preparedness and technical expertise in South Australia.

Regional detection and response–to undertake regional activities to minimise risk of disease outbreaks, disease spread and ensure regional level preparedness, including working with livestock industry parties on contingency planning.

Diagnostic capability–to improve SA laboratory services, capability and capacity to respond to an EAD outbreak.

Emergency Response Capability and Capacity–to enhance PIRSA incident management team (IMT) capacity and capability for an EAD response.

The funding will also assist with procurement of capital items to assist with destruction, disposal and decontamination in an HPAI outbreak, including scoping for specialised equipment for mass depopulation of large numbers of birds, if required.

PIRSA is working with the national poultry industry as part of national emergency animal disease (EAD) preparedness activities for avian influenza. PIRSA contributes to:

The nationally agreed AUSVETPLAN Avian Influenza Response Strategy which was reviewed recently, in consultation with industry, to include Victoria's recent experience with an outbreak in 2019 and is currently under review again to include the changing epidemiological situation overseas.

The National Avian Influenza Wild Bird Surveillance Program which collects surveillance information from around Australia to better understand the epidemiology and risks of avian influenza viruses to the Australian poultry industry.