Strengthening Territory’s protection from exotic plant pests and diseases

Department of Primary Industry and Resources

New measures to protect the Northern Territory’s $251million horticultural industry from plant diseases, exotic plant pests and other risks were introduced today through amendments to the Plant Health Regulations 2011.

New exotic plant pests to Australia and the Northern Territory (NT) have required regulation amendments to contemporise control methods in order to reduce the risk of pest and disease incursions.

“Plant pests can significantly damage the NT’s productive plant industries. They can reduce yields, lower the quality of food, increase production costs and make it difficult to sell our produce in domestic and international markets,” Dr Anne Walters, the Chief Plant Health Officer at the Department of Primary Industry and Resources said.

“The amended regulations are key to protecting the Territory’s well established horticulture industry, comprising fruit, vegetables, nursery products, turf and hay,” she said.

The regulations have been amended to cover hay and fodder, citrus canker, tomato potato psyllid, European house borer, potting mix, turf, soil-borne pests, spiralling whiteflies and scale insects. Administrative changes have also been made increase clarity. Key administrative changes include clearer definitions and clarity around permits, imported products, permits and plant health assurance certificates.

“This updating of regulations enhances the Territory’s ability to identify as well as better deal with and/or prevent exotic plant pests.” said Dr Walters.

The horticulture industry is a significant employer and source of economic activity in regional and remote areas of the Territory. The industry has important linkages to other sectors of the economy, including retail and wholesale trade, manufacturing and transport.

Robust and up-to-date biosecurity systems help ensure Australia’s food security and food safety, while good biosecurity practices assist with ensuring our farmers have continued market access for products, the maintaining of high standards for quality produce, and ultimately protecting the profitability and sustainability of plant industries.

“Biosecurity is a critical component of all plant based industries. It is critical that our legislative and regulatory environment is able to protect and foster our growing industry,” Paul Burke, NT Farmers Association Chief Executive said.

A rigorous and well-managed Plant Health Act is critical for all plant enterprises in the Northern Territory. A robust regulatory framework will ensure that the right balance is reached between compliance and growth, which will enable the Plant Industry to reach its full potential, Mr Burke said.

The NT Government, through DPIR, takes its role as a regulator very seriously and works with industry to boost awareness, maintain compliance and prevent future incursions.

Protecting the Territory and the rest of Australia from pests and diseases that threaten the environment, agriculture and agribusiness is everyone’s responsibility.

If you see any plant pest you think is suspicious, report it to the exotic plant pest hotline on 1800 084 881.

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