Reporting the discovery of new organisms and plant pathogens
Your plant pest research and diagnostic activities can have significant implications for plant biosecurity. Our plant biosecurity measures are based on the presence of a ‘pathogen’ rather than the presence of disease.
By law, the detection of a new plant pest or pathogen must be reported and there are penalties for not doing so.
If you identify a microorganism that may be a plant pest or pathogen, you must report it immediately to the Chief Plant Health Manager in your state or territory department of agriculture via the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881. You must not publish your research findings without having first notified your relevant Chief Plant Health Manager.
It is also important that researchers and diagnosticians understand that each state and territory is required to report the detection of a new plant pest or pathogen to the Australian Government. The Australian Government has international reporting obligations in regards to Australia’s plant health status.
Importance of reporting
The detection of new pests or new host records has significant implications for trade, including restricting access to overseas markets and damaging Australia’s reputation as a reliable exporter. Many Australian producers rely on export markets for their livelihoods. Early notification before publishing gives us time to consider the potential impact on market access, and to collect further information for our trading partners. Early reporting also increases the chance of successful eradication or containment of the pest.
Calls to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline (1800 084 881) will be forwarded to an experienced officer in the department of agriculture in your state or territory. The Chief Plant Health Manager will then assess the risk posed by the organism or plant pathogen to Australia’s plant biosecurity.
Based on the information provided, a decision will be made as to whether there is a requirement to report it to the Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer.
Emergency response arrangements
There are pre-existing arrangements in place between government and non-government parties that outline roles and responsibilities in a plant pest incursion. These arrangements ensure the required resources and services are ready to be deployed in response to a plant pest incursion and provide valuable safeguards for our agricultural and natural resources.
Emergency Pest Plant Response Deed sets out emergency response arrangements, including cost-sharing arrangements, for responses to biosecurity incidents that primarily affect agricultural industries. Similarly, the
National Environmental Biosecurity Responsibility Agreement sets out emergency response arrangements for incidents that impact on the environment and/or social amenity, where the response is for the public good.
Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests is the technical body that coordinates national responses to emergency plant pest incursions, and assesses the technical feasibility of eradication.
The current list of notifiable plant pests is available from your state or territory’s agricultural agency.
If you’d like a copy of the ‘Discovered a new organism or plant pathogen?’ A3 poster, please email the Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer at the Department of Agriculture.