This audit would examine the extent to which the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has implemented the recommendations from ANAO Audit Report No. 46 of 2011–12, Administration of the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy.
The northern Australian coastline is vast, remote and sparsely populated, giving rise to heightened risks of the entry and spread of exotic pests, weeds and diseases. The Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) was established in 1989 as an early biosecurity detection and warning system covering approximately 10 000 kilometres from Broome, Western Australia to Cairns, Queensland, and including the islands of the Torres Strait. Activities conducted under the program include animal and plant health surveillance, inspections of cargo, aircraft and vessels, and public awareness campaigns.
In Audit Report No. 46, the ANAO concluded that, in general, the department had implemented effective arrangements to administer the NAQS program in line with the department’s risk-based approach to biosecurity. There were, however, aspects of the program that could be improved to better inform management decision-making and to enable the department to demonstrate the achievements of the NAQS program. In this context, the ANAO made three recommendations designed to strengthen arrangements for managing scientific surveillance data, improve the integrity of border operations data, and build a more comprehensive performance measurement and reporting framework.