AFTER years of industry lobbying, Australia's first biosecurity strategy has been unveiled by the Agriculture Minister, who hinted it would be the first of many positive reforms for the sector.
In his address to the National Rural Press Club, Agriculture Minister Murray Watt also announced a further $10 million to help Indonesia respond to the outbreaks of both foot and mouth disease, and lumpy skin disease.
Mr Watt stressed his desire to "listen and collaborate" as minister, and drew on the inspiration of John Kerin, who served as the Agriculture Minister for more than eight years during the Hawke government.
"In my view, he was easily the most reformist agriculture Minister in Australia's history, and his ideas have already helped to inform my thinking," Mr Watt said.
"It really is time to turn the page for agriculture. We need to have relationships that are built on honesty and respect, we need a government that charts a path for industry success, not one the sets up roadblocks."
The national biosecurity strategy, which had been developed under the previous government, outlines the responsibilities of the federal and state governments, along with industries, producers and importers.
"By aligning all the key players, we can ensure everyone works together to counter the biosecurity threats we face," Mr Watt said.
"I'm really pleased that a new spirit of cooperation between federal, state and territory Agriculture Ministers has seen the strategy finalised and released so soon after the change of government."
Mr Watt said Australia's "biosecurity wall" had been built up over decades and was still strong, however the decisions of the previous government "have weakened that wall".
"Short-term thinking... has created cracks in our biosecurity wall, and now it's my job to repair that wall and make it even stronger," Mr Watt said.
During the election, Labor committed to providing the nation's biosecurity system with long-term sustainable funding, however is yet to reveal how it will achieve the promise.
Mr Watt said fulfilling the commitment was integral to the ag sector, but admitted it would take "a little bit of time and a lot of discussion".
"I am hopeful that we will have some good things to say in this year's budget, as we then work towards the next budget, which will be relatively close together in October and May," Mr Watt said.
National Farmers Federation president Fiona Simson said the national biosecurity strategy was important to ensure Australia was well protected in an increasingly complex risk environment.
"A coordinated, well-resourced, and innovative biosecurity system is fundamental to the success of our agricultural industries," Ms Simson said.
Animal Health Australia chief executive Kathleen Plowman said the national biosecurity strategy had to receive the funding it deserved to be implemented effectively
"We've been calling for a national strategy for many years, which includes a strong plan for long-term and sustainable investment in the system," Ms Plowman said.