Biosecurity and animal welfare

Outcome: The NT’s reputation and integrity as a producer of quality primary produce  is protected and animals are treated humanely.

The Biosecurity and Animal Welfare Division provides services foundational for the development of sustainable agribusiness and underpins and enhances the NT’s access to markets. This is achieved through effectively  managing risks to the economy, environment and human health by working with industry, government and communities to ensure best‑practice biosecurity and animal welfare standards are adhered to in the NT.

The laboratories are an essential service, providing diagnostics and strong technical support of biosecurity operations, particularly in response to new incursions. They also conduct animal and plant pest and disease  research, providing advice to industry and a specific range of analysis in microbiology and chemistry on wastewater and potable and environmental water samples.

The division also delivers effective biosecurity emergency management in the NT, leading the way nationally  with eradication programs for exotic pests, such as citrus canker and browsing ant, and providing across‑agency responses to animal welfare needs during significant weather events or crises.


2017-18 Actual 2018-19 Budget 2018-19 Actual
Biosecurity and animal welfare   
Biosecurity projects and programs to support preparedness, monitoring and responses to pest and disease incursions,  animal welfare and chemical use 15 19 19

Promote and facilitate the development of primary industries and resources

  • Implemented national priorities, including:
    • proof of freedom for the National Banana Freckle Eradication Program (February 2019)
    • National Browsing Ant Eradication Program
    • National Citrus Canker Eradication Program
    • input into development of the Aquatic Deed (an agreement between industry and governments for cost‑sharing responses to emergency aquatic animal disease outbreak) and negotiating the best outcomes for the NT.
  • Provided input into the development of a national traceability framework that will offer assurance to consumers and trading partners by continuing to build Australia’s reputation as a producer of safe and high-quality agricultural products.
  • Implemented Northern Australian Biosecurity Surveillance Projects (funded by the Australian Government white paper initiative) for both plant and animal health surveillance in Northern Australia, including:
    • a masterclass designed to equip veterinarians servicing the pastoral areas of the NT to undertake quality disease investigations in remote locations
    • the on‑farm biosecurity project Biosecure Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) in conjunction with the Nursery and Garden Industry Australia to promote biosecurity within the nursery and garden industry in the NT.
  • Developed and endorsed national movement protocols for NT‑produced citrus fruit and kaffir lime leaves in relation to domestic markets, facilitating risk‑managed trade during the National Citrus Canker Eradication Program.
  • Facilitated extensive updates to livestock industries on biosecurity plans under the Livestock Production Assurance System and Johnes Beef Assurance Score.
  • Undertook extension activities with the cattle industry to assist with property and livestock management and maintain animal welfare during exceptional seasonal circumstances.
  • Developed preparedness activities for emergency response, including Exercise Bee Prepared, extension material for the emerging threat of African swine fever and an emergency animal disease workshop on lyssaviruses (rabies and Australian bat lyssavirus) for private vets.

Use regulation of our industries and resources as a foundation for appropriate economic development

  • Developed a strategy to support biosecurity and animal welfare programs with a hierarchy of compliance, focusing on education and raising awareness leading to improved production, product quality, welfare outcomes and community support.
  • Developed new animal welfare legislation for the NT, the Animal Protection Bill 2018, which was passed by the Legislative Assembly on 30 October 2018. Assent was received on 22 November 2018 creating the new Animal Protection Act 2018. The new Act will commence once the supporting Animal Protection Regulations have been drafted and approved by government.
  • Reviewed and updated biosecurity and animal welfare legislation to ensure it is contemporary, nationally harmonised and aligns with community expectations.
  • Maintained market access for agricultural produce underpinned by strong surveillance, certification and compliance through disease investigations, inspections, audits and registration of new veterinarians.
  • Delivered Northern Australia Biosecurity Strategy projects, including livestock producer post-mortem training, wildlife officer disease investigation training and a reproductive disease guide for producers and vets, improving transport of diagnostic specimens to laboratories from remote locations and on‑farm biosecurity for the nursery industry.
  • Hosted a livestock desktop exercise (Exercise Truck Stop) to consider different approaches to imposing a livestock standstill and laboratory capacity to respond to handling and testing samples from animals suspected of having foot and mouth disease.
  • Developed the response plan for the National Citrus Canker Eradication Program endorsed by the National Management Group until 31 December 2019.

Build capability, adopt contemporary technology and improve service delivery

  • Continued successfully implementing the Berrimah Farm Science Precinct redevelopment with $31.5 million in infrastructure investment to support the NT’s agricultural industries through contemporary laboratory and research facilities. This includes building new laboratory facilities to create an epicentre of excellence in Northern Australia for agricultural research, diagnostics, and provide additional capacity for biosecurity incursion response, strengthening Australia’s reputation for clean, green produce.
  • Implemented a new livestock brands database with movement of brands records from 1912 to 2018 into NT archives.
  • Continued development and implementation of the data management system MAX that enables rapid reporting against key deliverables and sharing of data across divisions and jurisdictions.
  • Used dual imprinted odour detection dogs from the Queensland Government’s National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program to support proof of freedom activities for the National Browsing Ant Eradication program.
  • Identified opportunities for staff rotations within the broader division to encourage learning, provide development opportunities and create new opportunities for skill development.

Key citrus canker statistics

Stats as at September 2019


Last updated: 23 October 2019

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