February 23, 2008

A comprehensive and independent review of Australia's quarantine and biosecurity systems has been announced by the country's new Labor government.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke has appointed consultant and former secretary of the Department of Environment and Heritage Roger Beale to head the review, as well as three other experienced panel members with specialist knowledge.

They are former Deputy Chairman of the Quarantine Export Advisory Council Andrew Inglis; a commissioner of the National Water Commission and former National Farmers' Federation Deputy Executive Director David Trebeck; and former Executive Director of the Australian Poultry Industries Association Jeff Fairbrother AM.

The independent panel review process will run separately to the commission of inquiry into the outbreak of equine influenza being conducted by the Ian Callinan.

"The Rudd Labor Government is serious about delivering on this key election commitment, to ensure our biosecurity and quarantine arrangements are rigorous," Mr Burke said.

"As many people continue to feel the devastating impact of the equine influenza outbreak, we are determined to move ahead with this major review.

"Every farmer or business owner connected to our primary industries knows how important it is to protect Australia from disease.

"I have ... full confidence that the expert panel will investigate relevant issues thoroughly. I look forward to receiving the panel's report."

This is the first major review of quarantine and biosecurity since the former Labor Government commissioned a review by Professor Malcolm Nairn in 1995.

Mr Burke said he had asked the independent review to consider a range of issues including:

The panel is due to deliver its report and recommendations to the Minister by July 31 this year.