Biosecurity officers at the Sydney Gateway Facility recently intercepted a mail parcel with two live rooted rose plants, which are known hosts of Australia’s top plant disease threat.
Head of Biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Andrew Tongue, said importing plants carried a huge risk of plant diseases.
“Roses are a host for Sudden oak death and Xylella fastidiosa, both of which could be absolutely devastating to Australia’s horticulture and ornamental industry, and our native species and forestry, if they were to ever establish here,” Mr Tongue said.
“These rose plants were covered in potting mix and were covered in fungi and bacteria.
“This is also not the first time we have intercepted Xylella host plants through the mail, with live asparagales shrub plants and fig cuttings intercepted at Sydney Gateway Facility earlier this year.
“There is no cure for Xylella. It is Australia’s number one priority plant disease risk and is a threat to many industries, including cherries, citrus, tree nuts, production nurseries, summer fruit, olives and viticulture.
“Xylella has destroyed olive groves in Italy that are centuries old, and we know it infects hundreds of plant species in 98 plant families. The economic costs of
Xylella to Europe have been estimated in the billions of Euros. In Australia, the potential economic impact to the wine industry alone has been estimated at $2.8 and $7.9 billion over 50 years.
“It’s a risk we take seriously. In June, Australia expanded our emergency response to the threat of Xylella to cover more plant species.
“Not only does it attack commercial varieties of plants, but it’s also a serious threat to native plants and can cause disease in more than 500 different plant species.
“Sudden oak death is another harmful plant disease that is killing trees in the millions across Europe and North America.
“It affects over 130 tree and shrub species, including roses, and poses a risk to fruit and nut trees, ornamentals and native plants.
“In order to lawfully bring live plants into Australia, you must have an import permit issued by the Director of Biosecurity and meet all conditions within the permit.
“Risking Australia’s biosecurity status carries serious consequences, such as heavy fines and prison time, and for good reasons.
“Australia is currently free from many dangerous pests and diseases, and biosecurity is about keeping it that way.
“We all have a responsibility to keep Australia pest and disease-free.”
- Due to a change in host range, emergency measures for Xylella have been extended to nursery stock belonging to the following plant families, from 01 June 2021:
- The number of plants affected by Xylella is increasing every year.
- If it was to arrive and establish in Australia, it could cost our wine grape and wine-making industries up to $7.9 billion over 50 years.
- If you are unsure about the biosecurity status of goods that you have brought into Australia or received in the mail, please report a biosecurity concern by calling our See. Secure. Report. hotline on 1800 798 636 or completing our online reporting form.
- To check what items can be brought or mailed into Australia, see Bringing or mailing goods to Australia - Department of Agriculture or BICON - Australian Biosecurity Import Conditions (agriculture.gov.au).