February 8, 2013
NSW Farmers’ Association has joined forces with key agricultural and environmental organisations to highlight strong concerns with biosecurity legislation currently before the Federal Senate. Association President Ms Fiona Simson said the Federal Government continues to put political expediency ahead of good policies in what are the most significant changes proposed to Australia’s biosecurity laws in 100 years. “The Federal Government has not listened to the numerous concerns raised by industry and environmental groups during the drafting of this legislation,” Ms Simson said. “As a result, the legislation currently before the Senate will not adequately protect Australia from outbreaks of pests and diseases. “Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry modelling suggests a significant foot and mouth disease biosecurity outbreak has the potential to cause $16 billion in damage to the Australian economy. It is imperative that we have legislation which can protect our country from new and existing threats,” she said. Mr Alix Turner, Chair of NSW Farmers’ Exotic Diseases Committee, said the main concern of for farmers and other industry and community groups is that the bills will not ensure that import risk assessment processes are independent, transparent and scientifically credible. “The government’s own review made it clear that decisions about biosecurity should be independent of politics and subject to scientific and stakeholder review. They have failed to deliver this,” he said. The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee is currently reviewing the legislation and NSW Farmers has made submissions detailing its concerns. There have been no significant changes to the legislation since the draft bills were released for public consultation despite 59 submissions from stakeholders identifying numerous concerns. NSW Farmers is working with a range of stakeholders on biosecurity legislation issues including AusVeg, Growcom, Invasive Species Council, Fruit Growers Tasmania, Nursery and Garden Industry and Australian Chicken Meat Federation. The Senate Committee will hold the first of its public hearings on the Biosecurity Bill 2012 in Canberra tomorrow (Friday 8 February).