What is Biosecurity?

Biosecurity is a set of measures that can be put in place at the national, regional or farm level to protect against the introduction, establishment and spread of new pests, and to effectively deal with them should they arrive.

In plant biosecurity, the definition of a pest includes all insects, mites, snails, nematodes, pathogens (diseases) and weeds that are injurious to plants or plant products.  Exotic pests are those not currently present in Australia.  Endemic (or established) pests are those already present in Australia.

Australia is currently free from many of the pests that affect plant production overseas.  Exotic pests have the potential to cause huge production losses and trade problems.

Maintaining freedom from these pests through effective biosecurity measures is essential for the future profitability of Australian horticulture.

An Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity IGAB between the Commonwealth of Australia and the state and territory governments to strengthen the national biosecurity system, is in place.

It is a shared responsibility of all levels of government, industry, and the community.


Biosecurity South Australia

A major outbreak of a plant pest or animal disease, or chemical residue problems could potentially cost millions (if not billions) of dollars and affect primary producers, their produce and their livelihoods. Exotic pests and diseases may also risk South Australia’s competitive advantage; its clean, premium reputation, and trade in international and domestic markets.

Biosecurity SA, a division of the State Government's Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) is the frontline in protecting South Australia’s annual $600 million horticultural industry.

South Australia’s approach to Biosecurity is guided by South Australia’s Biosecurity Policy 2020-2023 (PDF 4.5 MB). This policy outlines how, together, government, industry and public (we) can protect and improve the state’s economy, environment, amenity and public health by preventing and reducing pest and disease impact.

New Biosecurity Act for South Australia

The State Government has also started work on a new Biosecurity Act for South Australia.  It’s aim is to create a modern, unified act that will help to meet the growing challenges of biosecurity, which are increasing due to more trade, tourism, urbanisation close to farmland and climate change.  Industry consultation and feedback will be a critical component in the development of the new Act. The State Government is engaging across industry, government and the wider public to seek feedback on the new Biosecurity Act to ensure it develops contemporary legislation across all pests and diseases, brings consistency to the management of biosecurity across all industries, identifies current strengths and weaknesses, and seeks any opportunities to build a better, more cohesive biosecurity system for the State's future growth.

Potatoes South Australia is represented on the Stakeholder Reference Group for the new Biosecurity Act.

A website and fact sheets related to the development of the new Biosecurity Act is available at pir.sa.gov.au/biosecurityact


Biosecurity Australia


Biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility

Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper – Biosecurity Surveillance and Analysis

​The Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper (the White Paper) was an Australian Government plan to grow agriculture. Launched in July 2015, it was a $4 billion investment in our farmers and in the future of our nation.

Through the White Paper, the government announced $200 million for biosecurity surveillance and analysis to better target critical biosecurity risks. The investment has improved Australia’s ability to detect and manage biosecurity risks early and, in turn, minimise damage to our farmers, the environment and the economy. It has also helped grow the evidence base for Australia’s pest and disease status to support Australia’s access to overseas markets.

Most of the White Paper funding provided for biosecurity was for surveillance and analysis activities over 4 years until 30 June 2019. Some of the information and analysis components have funding to continue work until 30 June 2020. The activities will leave a legacy for biosecurity beyond the funding period.

The department was responsible for implementing the biosecurity surveillance and analysis initiatives funded through the White Paper. The initiatives were delivered under four themes and through 10 measures.

Stronger farmers, stronger economy

Agriculture has always been important to the success of our nation.

The Australian Government is strengthening the sector. It wants to ensure it remains as competitive as possible. Stronger farmers mean a stronger Australian economy.

Opportunities for the agriculture sector are enormous. Australia is well placed for the future. We:

  • are on the edge of the strongest growing region in the world
  • have a developed agriculture sector
  • have world-class food safety and environmental credentials
  • possess modern technology
  • have a strong economy and employs skilled labour.

Priority areas

The plan is focused around 5 priority areas.

  1. A fairer go for farm business. Helping farmers get better farmgate returns. Fairer competition, better regulation and an improved tax system.
  2. Building the infrastructure of the 21st century. Planning ahead and thinking innovatively about infrastructure. This includes securing water supplies.
  3. Strengthening our approach to drought and risk management. Practical measures to help manage drought and other risks facing farmers.
  4. Access to advanced technologies and practices. This includes better research and development (R&D) and skilled workers.
  5. Accessing premium markets. Improving international trade to grow farm businesses.


The White Paper has delivered benefits to Australia’s farm businesses.

Reforms include:

Improving biosecurity surveillance and analysis


This brochure provides more details about the Australian Government’s commitment of $200 million over four years for biosecurity surveillance and analysis to better target critical biosecurity risks and support market access under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.​

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, September 2017.

Plant pests and diseases


Exotic Pests


Australia is lucky to be free from many of the world’s most damaging plant pests.

Exotic plant pests are capable of damaging our natural environment, destroying our food production and agriculture industries, and some could change our way of life.

Find out what you can do to:

National priority plant pests

The Plant Health Committee has recently reviewed the National Priority Plant Pests that are exotic to Australia, under eradication or have limited distribution. These are the focus of government investment and action, including funding through the Priority Pest and Disease Planning and Response. While by no means the only plant pests of biosecurity concern, the National Priority Plant Pests serve to highlight the sort of threats Australia faces. The National Priority Plant Pest will be used to focus national preparedness capability through the development of national action plans.

View the National Priority Plant Pests (2019)

Specific to the Potato Industry

Zebra chip (Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum)


zebra chip 1

The ‘Block of 4’ approach to business continuity and interstate trade was first developed by Potatoes South Australia and AuSPICA in 2017.  With the support of the wider industry over several years, the concept to ensure business continuity was taken to the Plant Health Committee for consideration. 

The significant outcome is that:

The movement of fresh and processing potatoes tubers will occur across state borders in the event of an incursion of TPP (with or without CLso) in the Eastern states.

This provides a far greater level of assurance in the event of an incursion and stronger support for continued trade.  Risk assessments are being finalised in each state jurisdiction and the conditions will be developed and written into state legislation.

Seed potatoes are not mentioned in the communique, however, the Ausveg National TPP Coordinator , Alan Nankivell, will be facilitating workshops to find a way forward for the interstate movement of seed.

This process has demonstrated that the government is reliant on industry providing evidence-based information which can enable practical solutions to be made for industry benefit.   

It has been a long process but not without the necessary due diligence.

Click here to view PHC communique.

Additional information

Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN)


potato cyst nematode

Additional information

On Farm Biosecurity


What is Farm Biosecurity? Farm biosecurity is a set of measures designed to protect a property from the entry and spread of pests and diseases. Farm biosecurity is your responsibility, and that of every person visiting or working on your property. Learn more. Farm Biosecurity Toolkit. There are tools, tips and manuals to help you implement farm biosecurity on your property. You will also find ...





Report a pest or disease concern

​​​​​​Seen something unusual? Report it, even if you’re not sure.

Pests and diseases can spread quickly over large distances. It’s essential that you report what you find as soon as possible. This gives the department the best chance of containing it before it spreads.

Let the department know about pests or diseases:

On your property

Report anything unusual in your backyard or on your farm. You can do this with one simple phone call.


  • Exotic Plant Pest Hotline: 1800 084 881 (plant pests and diseases, weeds and bees).
  • Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline: 1800 675 888 (sick livestock, poultry and aquatic animals).

These phone numbers will direct you straight to your state or territory biosecurity authority.

Find out what to do during a pest or disease outbreak.

In goods, containers and parcels

Keep an eye on all cargo, containers or parcels arriving through airports, seaports and in international mail.

If you see something unusual or unexpected, secure it and report it to the department immediately.

You can:

You will not be prosecuted if you or someone you know has accidentally imported risk material.