Media statement: Response to Four Corners, 2 July 2018

3 July 2018

(Issued by Department of Agriculture)

​The Four Corners episode that aired on 2 July 2018 identified many of the key challenges facing Australian biosecurity, including rising passenger and freight volumes as well as the global spread of serious pests and diseases.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is well aware of these challenges and has spoken about them publicly over a number of years.

Over the next five years, the department will invest an additional $313 million for new biosecurity measures to continue to build a smarter and stronger biosecurity system.

The department acknowledged shortcomings in its response to White Spot Syndrome Virus to the Regional and Rural Affairs Senate Committee in 2017, and introduced enhanced import conditions in July 2017 to address many of these issues. 

The Four Corners program incorrectly asserted that these enhanced import conditions were failing, but the department has learned that this assertion was based on flawed conclusions.

There is no conclusive evidence that imported prawns were the cause of the disease outbreak—genetic testing has shown that the virus in the imported prawns appears to be genetically different from the virus present in Australia.

Like most regulatory organisations, the department recognises that some parties will seek to avoid or evade our biosecurity controls, whether through ignorance or for personal gain.

The department employs a wide range of methodologies to manage these risks, including Intelligence assessments, data analytics and targeted interventions.

Australia is free from many of the world’s worst pests and diseases, largely due to the strength of our biosecurity system and some of the strictest biosecurity conditions in the world.

The department is committed to the continuous improvement of Australia’s biosecurity system, to ensure that it is prepared to meet the needs of the future, not just the demands of today.

Anyone with information about suspected breaches of Australian biosecurity, meat or food inspection laws may confidentially report them to the Redline service on 1800 803 006.