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Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 418. Updated Tuesday, 15 July 2014

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Import analysis under microscope
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The Department of Agriculture has begun consultations on the examination of Australia's Import Risk Analysis (IRA) process.

The examination is an opportunity to discuss Australia's IRA process, which helps identify and classify potential biosecurity risks and leads to the development of policies and protocols to manage import risks.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce said Australian farmers deserved to know that the best processes were in place to identify and analyse potential biosecurity risks that might come into Australia with new imports.

"Our import risk analysis process is a fundamental tool in maintaining the integrity of our nation's level of biosecurity protection. Ensuring it is robust, transparent and scientifically based is essential for Australian farmers and exporters," Mr Joyce said.

Risk process under review

"We all know Australian agriculture is heavily reliant on international trade, with about 60 per cent of production and nearly 80 per cent of the sector's earnings coming from exports."

He said it was important Australia maintained its relative freedom from harmful pests and diseases; it was also important to retain an IRA process that did not create trade barriers that contravened international trade rules.

"Like any process, there are always opportunities to improve and I acknowledge that significant concerns have been raised about the IRA process previously, so I am asking everyone to provide their input - whether they are an importer, exporter, retailer, producer, or any other organisation involved in the supply chain - even if they are just simply interested," Mr Joyce said.

Over the coming months the Department of Agriculture will be gathering information and ideas specifically around the key areas of transparency and engagement during the IRA process; the use of external scientific and economic expertise and the recognition of regional differences.

The discussion paper can be accessed at this PS News link.

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