Biosecurity is the management of risk from pests and diseases entering, emerging, establishing or spreading in Australia. Local Governments are a key stakeholder under the shared responsibility model between government, industry and community to address biosecurity matters.

Polyphagous shot-hole borer

Polyphagous shot-hole borer (PSHB) is wood-boring invasive beetle native to Asia. It burrows into the trunks and branches of trees, creating tunnels (also known as galleries). PSHB farms a fungus in these tunnels, blocking the flow of water and nutrients, and slowly killing the tree.

PSHB is a serious declared pest that poses a significant threat to our urban canopy and valuable agricultural industry.

PSHB was first detected in the Perth area in September 2021. It has now been found in 25 Local Governments in the Perth area and on Rottnest Island. This region forms a Quarantine Area. It is not present elsewhere in Australia.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) is working hard to eradicate PSHB as part of a $41 million nationally coordinated and funded biosecurity response. Local Governments are also investing significantly in surveillance monitoring and collaborating with DPIRD to ensure pruning and removal of infested trees. Green waste is collected and mulched at designed waste management facilities to reduce the risk of spreading PSHB.

There are currently no effective chemical treatments and infested trees can die within two years. Tree pruning and removal of infested trees is the only way to stop the spread. Prunings must be chipped to pieces less than 2.5 cm in size to kill the beetle.

There are over 130 host species in Western Australia. The three most affected species, known as reproductive hosts, are Box Elder Maple, Black Locust and Coral Tree. Other commonly affected species include Plane Trees, Moreton Bay Figs, Port Jackson Figs, Poinciana, White Mulberry and Weeping Willow. WA native species are usually not highly susceptible to PSHB and have generally become infected when near a preferred host.

Symptoms include ‘shot-holes’ about the size of a ballpoint pen tip, ‘wood noodles’ (sawdust) pushed out during the beetles tunnelling, staining of bark and release of thick resin or sap from the shot-holes as the tree attempts to push the beetles out. Dark galleries may be visible inside branches that are pruned or have broken off.  The beetles are the size of a sesame seed and are usually not seen.

Together, we can help protect our trees from PSHB.  Please report suspected PSHB activity in trees in your garden or in streets and parks. Reports can be made via the MyPestGuide® Reporter app or via the DPIRD Pest and Disease Information Service on 9368 3080,

For more information, please visit DPIRD’s website or WALGA's Urban Forest page.

Statutory review of the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007

In March 2022, the State Government appointed an independent review panel to undertake the statutory review of the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 (BAM Act).  The panel has been tasked with assessing the BAM Act’s operation and effectiveness.  This includes the extent to which the BAM Act provides a fit-for-purpose, efficient and effective legal framework to underpin a word class biosecurity system, and related agricultural management, for Western Australia.  The review of the BAM Act represents a once in a decade opportunity to move towards better practice. The review is being undertaken in a three stage process, with more information available here.

Stage 3 of the BAM Act Review
The Review Panel's Stage 3 Discussion Paper identified nine reform areas and 21 proposed opportunities for reform. Stage 3 is the final stage of the review and consultation closed on 30 June 2023.

WALGA completed a Stage 3 Submission that outlines the potential benefits or issues of each reform opportunity, as well as where the Review Panel's target outcomes and reform opportunities align with WALGA's 2022 Biosecurity Advocacy Position (see below).

WALGA also hosted a webinar with the Review Panel Chair on the Stage 3 reform opportunities on Wednesday, 14 June, with the recording available here.

The review panel will deliver its final report to the Minister for Agriculture and Food later this year. The WA Government will then determine if it will act on those recommendations and, if it chooses to proceed, how further work and consultation will be done to progress the recommendations.
More information on the BAM Act Review can be found on the Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development’s website.

Previous stages of the BAM Act Review
WALGA submitted a Discussion Paper for Stage 1 of the review, with 11 key themes and recommendations to provide context on relevant matters for Local Government.

WALGA Biosecurity Advocacy Position

Western Australia’s economy, environment and the community are facing increasing challenges posed by already established and new pests, weeds and diseases.

Local Government has a significant role in biosecurity management, as land managers and regulators, and therefore has an interest in ensuring that Western Australia’s biosecurity system, including control of declared pests, is effective and appropriately resourced.

WALGA considers significant changes to the operation of the State’s biosecurity system, including the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007, are required to ensure these risks can be managed now and into the future. To be effective the Western Australian biosecurity system must:

  1. Take a transparent approach to the notion of ‘shared responsibility’ by ensuring that:
    • The respective roles and responsibilities of Commonwealth, State and Local Government, industry, landholders, community groups and individuals are agreed and clearly articulated; and
    • There is improved pest management on State Government managed land and a formalised structure for State Government agencies with responsibilities for biosecurity management to work together and coordinate their activities.
  2. Be underpinned by a strategic framework, developed in collaboration with stakeholders, that:
    • Establishes priorities for biosecurity threats in geographically defined regions, sets measurable targets and guides investment in biosecurity activities; and
    • Is regularly evaluated and reported on.
  3.  Have a greater focus on environmental biosecurity, through the increased recognition and management of pest species that have significant ecological impacts.
  4.  Be adequately, sustainably and equitably funded:
    • The appropriateness and effectiveness of the Declared Pest Rate (DPR) and Recognised Biosecurity Group (RBG) model as key mechanisms for the management of widespread and established declared pests should be reviewed and alternate mechanisms considered.
    • Increased and more equitable distribution of funding for every step in the biosecurity continuum and adequate resourcing for all stakeholders, including Local Government; and
    • The provision of funding for declared pest management in metropolitan areas.
  5.  Ensure that the criteria and process for listing of declared pests is evidence-based, timely and transparent.
  6. Have an increased emphasis on compliance through education and enforcement activity, to ensure land managers are aware of their legislative responsibilities and are supported to implement biosecurity actions.
  7. Facilitate the use of new technologies, strategic monitoring, and the establishment of data management systems to inform biosecurity investment decisions and support adaptive management.
  8. Improve the community’s understanding, awareness and action in relation to biosecurity to assist with threat surveillance and timely response to incursions.

Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity Review

The Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity (IGAB) is an agreement between the Commonwealth, state and territory governments (except Tasmania) to strengthen the biosecurity system.  It defines the roles and responsibilities of governments and outlines the priority areas for collaboration to minimise the impact of pests and diseases on Australia's economy.

An independent review of the national biosecurity system and the IGAB was undertaken in 2016-17. Australian Agriculture Ministers responded to the IGAB Review Final Report in November 2018.

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