Boost in fight against bio threats

AUSTRALIA’S frontline fight against plant and animal pests and diseases has received a major boost with the launch of a new national biosecurity intelligence network.

Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation and Industry, Richard Marles, said the Australian Biosecurity Intelligence Network (ABIN), supported by $16.1 million from the Rudd Government, is a major step forward in the protection of animal and plant health in Australia.

“The network’s online workspace, a first for Australia, will look to link more than 60 different biosecurity agencies and institutions – establishing vital connections between research, surveillance, operations and policy makers at State and Federal levels,” Mr Marles said.

“Operations staff, researchers and policy makers will be able to access data, cutting-edge tools and technologies from around the nation to improve the process of identification and response to known and unknown pests and diseases.

“Whether it is equine influenza or fruit fly it is crucial we remain on the front foot against emerging biosecurity threats. By establishing these crucial links and boosting our information sharing capacity, the Rudd Government is ensuring this remains the case.”

Mr Marles said that the ABIN will also play a vital role in wildlife animal health where the detection and diagnosis of emerging diseases has previously taken many years.

“Australia’s tough quarantine regime ensures Australian products have relatively straightforward access to international markets,” Mr Marles said.

“ABIN will be an essential part of that effort to keep Australia free of some of the world’s most severe pests and diseases, as well as deal with local threats.”

The network’s chair, Professor Helen Garnett, said ABIN would allow a more integrated approach to biosecurity.

“Vast distances, historical silos at both the professional and organisational level, and differing legislative and operational frameworks in jurisdictions limit our potential to research and plan a harmonised approach to biosecurity,” Professor Garnett said.

“The ABIN infrastructure will help us generate and share existing and new biosecurity intelligence. As well as assisting decision making and policy development, it will help identify some of the knowledge gaps where we need to target research and provide a collegiate opportunity to close these gaps.”

Federal Government support is under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy. State and Territory Government agencies and other partners will provide in-kind support.

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