Laboratory upgrades on track to protect State’s biosecurity defences

  • New high containment laboratory to isolate potential biosecurity threats
  • Part of McGowan Government’s $20 million commitment to secure critical biosecurity, quarantine and trade functions while planning is completed for a long-term replacement for ageing Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development facilities
  • Scientific services and functions enhanced in Department facility upgrades 
  • Work will commence in the new year on the installation of new and upgraded State Government laboratories in South Perth to deliver biosecurity and research services to the State’s primary industries.

    As part of a $20 million commitment, the McGowan Government in September revealed plans to overhaul the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s (DPIRD’s) ageing scientific facilities.

    The immediate upgrades will provide a temporary laboratory facility of about 750 square metres to ensure a continuation of critical scientific services while plans are finalised for long term metropolitan facilities.

    Next steps include the installation of an accredited high containment laboratory, comprised of modular buildings, to physically isolate suspect exotic plant or animal pests or diseases.

    The Physical Containment Level 2 (PC2) laboratory will provide essential biosecurity diagnostic services to identify potential animal and plant material that could threaten agricultural productivity and profitability, as well as market access.

    Design and planning for the PC2 laboratory and associated work stations, service and reception area is underway.

    Some existing laboratory areas at South Perth will also be upgraded to ensure safe and functional workspaces for staff involved in biosecurity activities, as well as agricultural research projects that involve microbiology, pathology, mycology and biochemistry.

    DPIRD Diagnostic and Laboratory Services’ plant, animal and entomology functions, including Seed Testing and Certification, will be maintained throughout the refurbishment.

    About 200 of DPIRD’s scientific staff and specialised technical officers will remain at South Perth while a further 500 office-based staff will move to modern city-based offices at 1 Nash Street in the first half of 2021.

    As stated by Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan:

    “With more than 80 per cent of Western Australia’s primary production destined for export markets, we need to protect our biosecurity status with the right facilities for the job.

    “The McGowan Government is taking action to lay the foundations for a functional, modern science-based department to protect and grow our primary industries.

    “These immediate next steps of new temporary laboratories and modern offices ensures DPIRD can continue to protect our State from biosecurity threats and drive research to take our primary industries forward, while the longer term redevelopment is realised.

    “This Government has the runs on the board for our commitment to enhancing the scientific capacity of our primary industries, including investments in upgrading DPIRD’s research facilities at Northam, Merredin, Kununurra and Carnarvon.”

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