Page 4686 - Week 12 - Thursday, 1 November 2018

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The ACT support package, which is similar to Australian government assistance, is not contingent on declaring a drought. Support is tailored to the specific needs of the ACT farmers.

Rural landholders also play an important role in biosecurity—that is, the management of risks to the economy, environment and the community from pests and diseases entering, establishing and spreading in the ACT. The ACT works closely with other land managers, in particular rural landholders, and New South Wales and Australian government colleagues to collaborate and support each other in the management of biosecurity.

To protect our livestock industry, we have recently amended the Animal Diseases Act 2005 to enhance the traceability of cattle, sheep, goats and pigs in accordance with the national livestock identification system. This will help us to respond rapidly to any pest or disease outbreak in our stock, thereby minimising the impacts to rural landholders.

As the ACT’s representative on the Agriculture Ministers’ Forum, I will continue to work with all Australian governments to improve national biosecurity arrangements to reduce pest and disease risks for all agricultural sectors, including the plant production industries. In the last year, biosecurity veterinary officers have increased our engagement with rural landholders by supporting information sessions such as “What you need to know about biosecurity plans” and “Best practice pig control” and by actively promoting livestock disease investigations.

The ACT is also an active participant in the national biosecurity communications and engagement network, which works to improve awareness of the harmful effects of unwanted plant and animal pests and diseases that have entered, or are at risk of entering, Australia. The ACT government expenditure on biosecurity has increased by just over $1 million in 2017-18 to over $4 million due to the significantly increased investment in invasive species control, training, plant health, surveillance around Canberra Airport, and our contribution to national projects such as the red imported fire ant eradication program in south-east Queensland.

Lastly, I would like to re-emphasise that the ACT’s farming families are important members of the Canberra community. The government welcomes the attention that the recent drought summit held in Canberra has brought to this important issue. Many different primary enterprises across the territory contribute to the diversity of the ACT economy. The ACT is providing support to rural landholders not only to help them through the immediate dry conditions but also to build resilience and prepare for the future climate.

Our focus is on supporting ACT rural landholders now to be resilient and better positioned to respond to the changing climate. Our region experiences dry conditions periodically. These conditions may increase in severity with the impacts of climate change. In the face of climate change, farm business is becoming increasingly complex and the ability to adapt and build resilience is crucial.

Discussion concluded.

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