Official control of quarantine plant pests and diseases

​​​A Plant Quarantine Pest and Official Control National Policy has been developed to help contain and control new plant pests and diseases, while allowing the Australian Government to continue to regulate imports to prevent pest entry. The policy also facilitates exports, so growers can continue sending their products to overseas markets.

Chief Plant Health Managers across Australia have agreed to implement the policy.

If you are a grower in Australia’s horticulture, grains or timber industries, you need to be aware of the policy, understand what ‘official control’ means and when it could apply to you.

What official control means and when it applies

On occasions, an exotic plant pest or disease may enter Australia that cannot be eradicated. In these circumstances, responsibility for managing the pest or disease rests with industry and the government of the state or territory in which it occurs.

When ‘official control’ is applied, the state or territory government has put in place measures that aim to contain and control the pest or disease. These mandatory activities include:

  • containment or suppression activities (mostly involving destruction, disposal and decontamination)
  • surveillance in the area where the pest or disease could establish
  • movement restrictions so the pest or disease does not spread to an area that is not affected.

Official control can be applied at a regional or national level. If it is applied nationally, it must be consistent across all states and territories.

Official control protects Australia and helps trade continue

Australia is both an importer and exporter of plants and plant products. There are conditions in place at Australia’s international border for products coming into Australia, and for those being exported. Plants and products which are exported need to meet the conditions set by the country that is importing them.

When an exotic pest or disease enters and is officially confirmed in Australia, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has an obligation to notify the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). When other countries become aware of the presence of the pest or disease in Australia, it can trigger trade bans or restrictions on our exports, and requests for Australia to review its current import conditions.

If we can provide our trading partners with evidence that we have the pest or disease under official control, the department can continue to justify regulating international imports to prevent pest entry. Official control may also underpin negotiations for export with concerned trading partners to accept plants or products that have been produced in areas of Australia that are not affected by the pest or disease and/or are treated to IPPC standards to manage the biosecurity risk.

If an established pest is not under official control, the department cannot justify continuing to prevent the pest’s entry by regulating imported goods and conveyances. While there are numerous benefits in implementing official control, there are also costs associated with containment, surveillance and movement restrictions. State and territory governments, in consultation with peak industry bodies, must determine whether official control is cost-beneficial or whether other management options are more appropriate.

If you need further information contact the Office of the Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer in the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment: email ACPPO or phone 1800 900 090.

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