FIRST response teams from the Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries will form part of the Territory’s biosecurity strategy into the future.
While launching NT’s 10-year strategic plan for biosecurity, Minister for Primary Industry and Fisheries Gary Higgins recounted a personal experience from his time owning the Mango Farm at Daly River.
“I had an incident on our farm at the Daly and I rang up (the department) and I said ‘look I’ve got trees dying in a circle and I don’t know what’s causing it’, and they had no-one who could come out there at that point, it was going to be two weeks before they could get there,” Mr Higgins said.
“So, the first response team will be someone who can come out straight away and do an initial assessment.
“They may not be able to finish doing the work but they can come out and say look ‘we think it’s this’, do some tests and go back, but at least there is some action being taken and they can identify quickly whether it is just a normal occurrence or whether it is something exotic.”
In a statement, the department said it was developing a comprehensive biosecurity emergency plan that aligned with national deeds and the NT Emergency Plan.
“Underpinning this will be a response preparedness training program in line with NT’s national obligations,” the statement said.
“Establishing a first response team would ensure core emergency response leadership and incident control skills and capabilities to manage a biosecurity incident.”
Mr Higgins said the Northern Territory Biosecurity Strategy 2016-2026 set a framework for the Territory to reach best practice benchmarks.
“It represents a major step forward in safeguarding the NT’s unique environment and underpins our Developing the North vision.
“This plan focuses around the risks of pests and disease. At the same time, we will be innovative leaders nationally in the biosecurity space with this new community-based approach to biosecurity,” Mr Higgins said.
A number of recent pest and disease incursions such as banana freckle and browsing ants have highlighted that the Territory needs to improve across the biosecurity continuum.
Mr Higgins said a fast- moving animal disease, such as foot and mouth, would have catastrophic impacts on the Territory’s economy, would shut down exports of livestock overnight and would be estimated to cost up to $50b nationally over 10 years.
The strategy outlines a “partnership model”, which represents a shift away from the tradition of government agencies delivering technical surveillance programs to a new “citizen-focused” program that recognises the capability of the public, farmers and fishers to identify, record and report data; and take action where necessary.
The key objective of the partnership model is to create a culture on the principle that “Biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility”.
For further information on the Northern Territory Biosecurity Strategy 2016-2026 or to obtain a copy visit https://dpif.nt.gov.au/.
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