I refer to your article, “Citrus canker: Biosecurity Australia must be held accountable” (News Weekly, November 6). The article contains a number of errors of fact which must be corrected.
Citrus canker was not discovered in the Emerald area in 2001 as stated, nor was there any cover-up.
In 2001 the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) surveyed for exotic pests and diseases, including citrus canker, on the Emerald property of Pacific Century Productions (PCP). Citrus canker was not found.
A deed of arrangement between AQIS and PCP ensured ongoing access to survey the company’s property for exotic disease for up to 18 months. AQIS earlier this year released the full document for public scrutiny on its web site.
Finally, AQIS has not become Biosecurity Australia (BA) as you stated. The organisations are not the same, although each is part of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
BA assesses, on scientific grounds, import risks for various products and, where risks can be managed to acceptable levels, sets import conditions.
AQIS is an operational organisation responsible for, among other things, managing Australia’s quarantine border controls to protect against pest and disease risks by implementing import conditions developed by BA.
More than 2,000 AQIS staff inspect 100 per cent of international mail, air and sea containers and shipping, while screening more than 90 per cent of passengers and their luggage arriving at airports.
Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS),