Biosecurity research at critical crossroads

Biosecurity research at critical crossroads

23 November, 2016

Australia is facing increasing biosecurity threats to agricultural production, export markets and the environment that can only be tackled through investment in smart, high quality science according to a Plant Biosecurity CRC proposal released today.

The $40 million per annum SmartBiosecurity: Australasian Plant Biosecurity Collaborative Research Institute would maintain and continue to strengthen Australia’s competitive advantage in the international trade of grain and fresh produce.

“Australian agricultural exports are worth more than $43.6 billion per year. As a country our access to international markets is built on our strong biosecurity status - a status underpinned by good science,” said Dr Michael Robinson, CEO of the Plant Biosecurity CRC.

“Good science has meant Australia can protect its borders, prove the absence of market-sensitive pests and diseases, and guarantee quality through the supply chain.”

The Plant Biosecurity CRC has been tasked by the Australian Government with developing an improved plant health RD&E system before the end of its term in mid-2018. Following more than two years of development and extensive stakeholder engagement, the CRC has produced the recommendation for a research institute and is proposing calling for investment from Australian and state governments and industry partners.

“The Institute will also develop the biosecurity scientists that Australia needs for the future, with the globally recognised expertise necessary for a modern biosecurity system.”

“Ongoing investment in biosecurity science must be prioritised; not doing so will compromise Australian agriculture and the environment,” said Dr Robinson.

The Australian Farm Institute’s Mick Keogh authored an independent research report on national plant biosecurity RD&E which fed into the proposal.

“As I noted in the report, biosecurity RD&E is best conducted at an Australian Government level in collaboration with states and groups of industries. This type of research is in the national interest, has high levels of public benefit, and to be effective needs to be a long-term undertaking,” said Mr Keogh.

“To wind back the clock and return to individual jurisdictions is no longer a practical reality and would run counter to all the biosecurity and R&D strategies of the Australian Government and states.

“Australia must develop a permanent structure through which to coordinate, fund and manage a national plant biosecurity research program,” he said.

The proposal for the SmartBiosecurity: Australasian Plant Biosecurity Collaborative Research Institute is available online at


More information and interviews: Tony Steeper, Plant Biosecurity CRC Communications, 02 6201 5888, 0417 697 470, (Send emails to:

Plant Biosecurity CRC on Twitter: @PBCRC