A national priority list of exotic environmental pests and diseases is being developed as a first step in making sure Australia’s native plants and animals are adequately protected.
Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie said the interim Priority List focuses on pests and diseases that are not in Australia and pose the highest risk to our environment and public spaces.
“Some of the pests and diseases on this list have the potential to decimate our native wildlife-imagine our coat of arms with no emu and no kangaroo to hold it,” Minister McKenzie said.
“Screwworm fly-in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia but not Australia-is known to infect native animals such as our kangaroos, emus and koalas. All warm blooded mammals are hosts for the larvae of the fly which is laid inside the animal before burrowing their way out.
“The fly poses a real and present danger to Australia´s native animals, livestock and pets.
“There are currently more than 1250 native plant and animal species listed as threatened because of the risk invasive species pose towards them-that’s 82 per cent of all threatened species in Australia.
“The Morrison McCormack Government is committed to keeping out pests and diseases that could establish here and add to the pressure invasive species put on our native flora and fauna.
“Prioritising the key threats to our environment is an important step in mitigating the risks and will ensure we are focusing on keeping out our most unwanted environmental biosecurity risks.
“We need all Australians to take biosecurity seriously and help us keep pests and diseases out of the country.
“If you’re returning to Australia after an overseas holiday or if you’re expecting international visitors make sure you do the right thing and don’t bring in items that could harm Australia’s environment and agricultural industries. If you’re shopping online then be biosecurity aware.
“I don’t want to see another four semi-trailers worth of animal products seized at our airports next year. I want people to stop bringing items like that in.
“Australia’s Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer is currently consulting on the list to make sure were on the right track, with managing these pests. Consultation finishes on 4 October 2019 and we aim to have a list finalised in early 2020.
“That will be used to inform surveillance activities, strengthen preparedness and response capabilities and inform research and development in this space.”