OPINION: A mate of yours truly wonders if outgoing Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor will now call it a day on his 30-year long political career.
Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Senator Murray Watt took over the role from David Littleproud in June after Australia’s Labor Party won the 2022 election.
On a conference call yesterday, O’Connor and Watt focused particularly on foot and mouth disease (FMD).
O’Connor said greater cooperation was integral to reducing biosecurity risks in the Trans-Tasman region as threats from FMD and fruit fly loom over Australasia.
“I am very pleased to have discussed joint efforts to strengthen preparedness and response capabilities with Minister Watt today and evolve our biosecurity interventions, so we stay in step with each other,” he said.
“We continue to work together on a range of biosecurity initiatives, such as increasing our intelligence capacity to ensure our biosecurity systems are world’s best.”
Watt said biosecurity is a central component of Australia’s relationship with New Zealand amid a range of risks held in common, especially the recent FMD outbreak in Indonesia.
“Minister O’Connor and I had a very good meeting and reaffirmed our commitment to maintaining stringent arrangements to protect our countries’ respective biosecurity status’,” Watt said.
He said the pair discussed ongoing work by senior biosecurity officials in both countries to synchronise approaches where it’s possible.
“Both countries are signatories to the International Animal Health Emergency Reserve, which would afford us additional human resources in the event of an emergency animal disease outbreak, allowing for faster control and increased chances of eradication,” Watt said.