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Quarantine and risk assessment

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Ratification Date: 01 Feb 2009

Policy

Australia should have strong and effective quarantine policies and strategies to maintain its favourable animal health status. The veterinary profession is best placed to provide technical advice in relation to animal quarantine and risk assessment.

Background

Quarantine policies and strategies must:

  • protect Australia's favourable pest and disease status and thus enhance access to international markets for animals and animal products
  • maintain efficient livestock production and reflect public expectations to ensure the highest standards of animal welfare
  • minimise the risk of entry of exotic pests and diseases into Australia and thus also protect public health and the environment
  • meet Australia’s international obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization, the World Organisation for Animal Health and the World Health Organization
  • provide for open and transparent consultation with stakeholders during their development and implementation.

Policies and strategies that ensure the provision of appropriate infrastructure to deal with exotic disease incursions and the continuing education of all veterinarians, particularly those in private practice are needed to ensure they are kept up to date with regard to current biosecurity recommendations and practices supporting Australia’s quarantine and exotic pest and disease control policies.

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) endorses the major principles in the Australian Government’s response to the Nairn Committee report (1996) and the Beale Review (2008) particularly the principles of:

  • allowing the entry of animals and their products consistent with safety to agriculture and the environment and adopting a conservative approach to risk
  • the ‘continuum of quarantine’ – managing risks pre-border, at the border and post-border.

AVA supports the need for a structured, comprehensive and consultative process for risk analysis to ensure a robust quarantine system that maintains and enhances Australia’s biosecurity. AVA advocates continued improvement in the methods used for quarantine risk assessment to ensure that import policy remains science-based and leads to appropriate risk management measures. AVA supports ongoing and iterative risk communication with all stakeholders to maintain an open and robust process.

Australian animal health authorities must maintain a close relationship with key trading partners to ensure accurate and current intelligence on pest and disease risks. AVA supports Australian animal health authorities undertaking offshore pre-border monitoring and surveillance, and assisting in capacity building, particularly in the Asia–Pacific region, to help identify emerging pest and disease risks and to reduce the risk of incursions of exotic pests and diseases. AVA also endorses the need for Australian animal health authorities to engage and influence international agencies that set standards for animal health and trade in animals and animal products.

AVA supports the continued development of the National Animal Health Information System to improve the quality of information provided for international disease reporting and to enhance Australia’s trade position.

It is essential for Australia to maintain and continuously review preparedness plans (e.g. AUSVETPLAN) for incursions of exotic pests and diseases and for outbreaks of endemic emergency animal diseases (whether well-known diseases such as anthrax or newly recognised emerging diseases such as Hendra virus). The number of Australian government veterinarians, state/territory government veterinarians and accredited private practitioners must be kept at a level that is adequate to deal with outbreaks. Relevant infrastructure, such as veterinary laboratories, disease monitoring and surveillance, and training in emergency animal disease responses must be maintained at levels sufficient to ensure outbreaks of emergency animal diseases (whether incursions of an exotic pest or disease or outbreaks of endemic disease) are rapidly detected and appropriately controlled and eradicated where possible.

References

  1. Australian Government. AQIS. Nairn Committee. (1996) Australian Quarantine: A Shared Responsibility. http://www.agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity/australia/reports-pubs/nairn/govt-response Accessed October 2019
  2. Animal Health Australia. National Animal Health Information System. https://www.animalhealthaustralia.com.au/what-we-do/disease-surveillance/national-animal-health-information-system-nahip/
  3. Special report: review of Australian quarantine and Biosecurity ('Beale review'). http://www.agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity/australia/biosecurity-reform/reform-biosecurity-system

Date of ratification by AVA Board February 2009