LAST month's column was my third on the topic of biosecurity.
I don't want you all to get bored with what is a vitally important topic, so there will be no more mention until my December column.
Last month I gave a rather testy report on a meeting, one of several organised by the Department, apparently to give an update on the Queensland Fruit Fly incursion and, more to point, discuss what to do to stop this happening again in the future. I reported at length the very astute comments by Bob Simmons, a farmer and the man behind Simmons Project Services.
To be even handed, I decided to find out what the Department's view was, and in particular, what changes have been made since the initial incursion.
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I hit pay dirt when it was suggested that I talk to Dr Ryan Wilkinson, the industry collaboration manager and did so. He was very approachable and provided me with the following statement:
"Tasmania has long recognised the need for an integrated approach when it comes to management of Queensland fruit fly (Q-fly) across Australia."
"Therefore, Biosecurity Tasmania has been an active participant in the development of the National Fruit Fly Management System.
At its peak, 100+ State service employees were involved, working seven days/week, in close collaboration with industry and the community to successfully eradicate Q-fly from the State.
"In addition, Tasmania developed its own fruit fly strategy entitled 'Maintaining Tasmania's Freedom from Fruit Fly - A Strategy for the Future 2017 - 2050'.
"The 2017-2018 season was a bad year for Q-fly with increased outbreaks observed across SE Australia.
"Investigations concluded that the likely source of the Tasmanian incursion in early 2018 was a shipment of infested mangoes. What followed throughout 2018-2019 was the largest biosecurity response in Tasmania's history.
"At its peak, 100+ State service employees were involved, working seven days/week, in close collaboration with industry and the community to successfully eradicate Q-fly from the State.
"In recognition of the increasing risk that resulted in the incursions in Tasmania and other States, a co-ordinated review of the national system was initiated by the Commonwealth and States.
"Biosecurity Tasmania, in collaboration with counterparts in Victoria and the Commonwealth have worked hard to drive improvements, especially with respect to pre-import treatments.
"The most significant of these changes relates to Import Requirement 2 (IR2 - Disinfestation with Methyl bromide) and associated interstate certification arrangements.
In further recognition of increasing risk, the State Government committed an additional $2.6 million in biosecurity funding in the 2019-20 State Budget.
"In particular, a 600-piece inspection must now be undertaken by an authorised officer on all commercial consignments of mangoes and stonefruit before entering mainland fumigation chambers.
"If evidence of Q-fly damage is detected, the consignment is rejected. This requirement will help ensure that a higher quality of produce is directed towards Tasmanian markets. A number of other amendments to IR2 have also been made aimed at improving fumigation efficiency.
"In further recognition of increasing risk, the State Government committed an additional $2.6 million in biosecurity funding in the 2019-20 State Budget.
"This additional funding, which is currently subject to a regulatory development process, will be directed to further boost border biosecurity. Planning for the upcoming peak Spring-Summer period is well advanced.
"In addition, in November 2018, the Federal Government announced a $16.9 million commitment to further enhance fruit fly management across Australia with a focus on new management technologies
"Further information on the changes to IR2 can be viewed here: https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/biosecurity-tasmania/biosecurity/importing-plants/plant-import-requirement-changes
"In addition, information on the range of other current import and export requirements for plants and plant products can be viewed in the 'Tasmanian Plant Biosecurity Manual', located here: https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/biosecurity-tasmania/plant-biosecurity/plant-biosecurity-manual."
This is very informative, and I've told him so. He has offered to work with me on a follow-up article, and I've been more than happy to accept so my December column will be a joint effort.