Peak industry bodies have welcomed agricultural minister Barnaby Joyce’s announcement that the Australian government will review its Import Risk Analysis (IRA) process.
Joyce’s announcement follows a Senate inquiry earlier this year into how Australia’s biosecurity threats are assessed, specifically looking into concerns surrounding imports of Malaysian pineapple, Fijian ginger and New Zealand potatoes.
The report, released in March, made a number of recommendations and was critical of the Department of Agriculture’s handling of biosecurity concerns.
“The Australian Government’s commitment to reviewing the IRA process supports the concerns that Ausveg and other Australian horticulture industries have been raising for some time,” said Ausveg’s Andrew White in a media release.
“It is absolutely critical for Australian vegetable and potato producers that the Import Risk Analyses undertaken by the Department [of Agriculture] are executed with scientific rigor, and provide a clear justification for the risk assessments they make.”
Growcom’s chief advocate Rachel Mackenzie said she hoped the recommendations from the Senate inquiry would be incorporated into new biosecurity legislation, correcting flaws in the current IRA process.
“Now, with the announcement of the government’s plans to progress the Biosecurity Bill 2014 to replace the Quarantine Act 1908, it is to be hoped that biosecurity threats which could decimate our domestic markets and limit our future market access will be taken more seriously,” said Mackenzie in a Growcom statement. “We hope this will have positive outcomes for industries far beyond those directly involved.”
Submissions for the IRA review are open until 10 September.