Independent Biosecurity Commission pledge a win for farmers

Janelle Saffin MP has welcomed as a major win for farmers the NSW Labor Opposition's pledge to establish an independent Biosecurity Commission with real teeth and resources.

LISMORE MP Janelle Saffin has welcomed NSW Labor’s pledge to legislate and fund an independent Biosecurity Commission to better protect farmers on the Northern Rivers and Northern Tablelands.

Ms Saffin says the Commission will be headed by a new Biosecurity Commissioner who will provide independent advice on biosecurity, weeds and pests, reporting to Parliament on an annual basis.

“One of the Commissioner’s first tasks will be to work with the Natural Resources Commission to get an up-to-date picture of the damage invasive species are doing to the agricultural industry and the environment,” Ms Saffin says.

In 2014, it was conservatively estimated that the cost to NSW agriculture from weeds is about $1.8 billion a year.

The Commission will be tasked with addressing critical issues in the bush such as identifying and protecting state significant land and renewable energy projects.

Ms Saffin has been briefed by NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns and NSW Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Regional NSW Mick Veitch MLC on Labor’s plan to work with NSW Farmers and others to build a more resilient agricultural sector.

Ms Saffin also welcomed Mr Minns’s announcement made at the NSW Farmers’ Conference in Sydney last week that NSW Labor would:

  • Direct $10 million to a good neighbour program to tackle weed and pest infestations on Government land which neighbours private property.
  • Re-engage a Dairy and Fresh Food Advocate to look at supply chains, address food security issues and be a voice for farmers.

A Biosecurity Commissioner with real clout and a well-resourced Commission would better protect our best farmland, and ensure food security and a more sustainable and productive agriculture industry.