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:: National Biosecurity Strategy

In August 2003, the Biosecurity Council released its Biosecurity Strategy, a product of almost three years work, extensive consultation and a high degree of engagement from the government agencies with responsibilities for biosecurity.

The strategy contains 57 expectations about the performance of a future biosecurity system. While acknowledging that the New Zealand biosecurity system is world leading in its capability and performance, the strategy also notes many areas in which performance could be lifted. It also highlights where public and political expectations about the performance of the system have changed over the years, requiring changes in capabilities, resourcing and priorities within the system. Some key concerns across the system are inconsistencies in risk assessment and prioritisation, fragmented leadership and governance, inadequate information collection, analysis and dissemination, weak strategic capability, failures to learn lessons from experience, and the need for better systems and processes.

In August 2003, the government endorsed the recommendations set out in the Biosecurity Strategy and agreed that they form the basis for the Government's improvements to the biosecurity system over the next five years. In response to this, and to a number of other recent reports on biosecurity, MAF has planned major changes to the way biosecurity is managed.

The Biosecurity Strategy highlights inadequate strategic capability in the biosecurity system, and stressed the need for this capability to be added in a way which is demonstrably "whole of system". MAF has established a Biosecurity Strategic Unit, with people drawn from the four contributing biosecurity agencies and reporting directly to the Director-General. The reporting line ensures the unit does not get caught up in day-to-day activities that can distract officials from longer-term strategic work. It also ensures the unit can provide advice that is independent from the four agencies.

MAF has pulled together a programme team to design a biosecurity system that will contribute to broader environmental, economic and social outcomes, and which will be more integrated and coordinated than the current system. Representatives from all the biosecurity agencies and other Government ministries are involved. The team is also using the input provided by organisations that expressed particular concern during the development of the Biosecurity Strategy.

In May 2004, MAF confirmed its intention to restructure its Biosecurity Authority on a 'points of intervention' approach based on three streams of activity - pre-clearance, post clearance and cross-system integration. The design work to finalise roles within this structure and the actual transition of staff from the four biosecurity agencies should be completed by November.

Finally, the Government will soon consider whether any functions currently delivered by the four agencies should shift to MAF as part of the idea of a single point of accountability for biosecurity. The new biosecurity structure will allow MAF to take on additional roles, ensure that the full range of biosecurity values are being protected, and better prioritise resources between the range of biosecurity activities.



Last Revised 08/07/2004

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