Throwing buckets of money to shore up Australia's biosecurity won't fix the problem.
That was the opinion of experts taking part in a discussion during the ABARES Outlook conference on how best to protect the nation from pests and diseases now the borders have opened up again.
The discussion was reminded of biosecurity's clear and present danger with Japanese encephalitis this week confirmed in a Victorian piggery as well as piggeries in NSW and Queensland.
This mosquito-borne virus has been found for the first time on the mainland and has the potential to infect pigs and horses.
Acting chief medical officer Dr Sonya Bennett said JEV infections can also be contracted by humans through the bite of a mosquito.
There are no confirmed human cases in Australia at this stage, although this is under active investigation.
"We are aware that several cases of encephalitis of unknown cause have been identified in NSW, Victoria and South Australia within the past month," Dr Bennett said.
Animal Health Australia chief executive Kathleen Plowman told the ABARES conference the national experience with COVID-19 had revealed "gaps" in our border protection.
Ms Plowman also said the nation's response to the pandemic could also help future biosecurity protection.
She said the investment in vaccine manufacture could help if there were disease "incursions and not just for humans".
Those vaccine developers could be called on to help if an unwanted animal disease arrived, she said.
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Australia's director of biosecurity Andrew Metcalfe said even though more than $1 billion was available this year to fund biosecurity protection the development of future strategies was needed to better focus the spending.
"Biosecurity must evolve to meet the future needs of globalisation," he said.
CSIRO modelling shows even almost tripling investment in interventions out to 2025 would still result in increased residual biosecurity risk compared with 2014-2015 levels.
Queensland's chief biosecurity officer Malcolm Letts emphasised the importance of better data gathering and development of new technology.
There was also discussion about the rise of "citizen science" and recruiting the general public to help in initial detection and response.
The debate came as NSW's recent three-yearly State of the Environment Report said pest weeds cost that state's economy $1.8 billion each year in lost agricultural production.
NSW Farmers spokesman Craig Mitchell said weeds were a persistent problem while wild dogs, deer and pigs were each destructive forces in their own way, each requiring a coordinated management approach.
"As farmers we do our bit spraying weeds and building fences to keep wild animals out, but it's really tough to swallow when you're neighbouring public land and the pests keep coming from there," he said.
Since 2018, more than 300,000 hectares have been added to the public reserve system, which now covers around 9.6 per cent of land in NSW.
"We had one bloke up in the northern rivers reported animals attacked by wild dogs that were breeding in the nearby state forests, and you call up and report the problem but it just keeps getting worse."
NSW Farmers has called for landholders to be allowed to control pests and weeds on neighbouring public lands, while lobbying for increased compliance action on landholders who make no effort.
It was estimated pest animals cost the NSW economy $170 million every year in lost production and management costs.
CSIRO says Australian governments have long acknowledged the need for a coordinated approach to biosecurity that builds on the natural protection that comes from being an island nation.
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