Interim head to oversee establishment of new biosecurity watchdog

The NSW government has appointed Dr Marion Healy as interim commissioner to oversee a new independent biosecurity commission designed to strengthen the agriculture industry.

Dr Marion Healy

Dr Healy is currently chair of the TGA’s chemical scheduling committee and a member of the Emerging Industries Consultative Committee, which provides advice to the AgriFutures program.

Agriculture minister Tara Moriarty announced plans for the commission, promised as part of Labor’s election campaign, last month.

“I know biosecurity risks present the most significant threat to the primary industries sector, the economy, the environment and our communities,” Ms Moriarty said as she announced Dr Healy’s appointment.

“Dr Healy is well-respected by her peers across the industry and her biosecurity expertise will ensure the independent biosecurity commission is equipped and ready on day one to build and strengthen the resilience of our agriculture industry.”

It’s estimated that weeds and invasive species cost the state’s agriculture sector almost $2 billion a year.

Over the next three months Dr Healy will begin mapping out pest and weed threats in the state.

She’s also tasked with developing a discussion paper on the role and powers of the NSW Biosecurity Commissioner; commissioning a baseline report on the extent of pests and weeds on public lands from Natural Resources Commission; and preparing scoping guidelines for the Good Neighbour Program to tackle weed and pest infestations on government land adjacent to private property.

“It’s really important that we tackle the biosecurity challenges that comes from pests and weeds and that government are good neighbours,” Ms Moriarty said.

“Farmers and landowners do their very best to keep weeds and other pests out, and we need to make sure all other landowners are doing the same – including the government.”

Unveiling Labor’s vision for the commission ahead of the election earlier this year, Premier Chris Minns said the commission would also address issues including the identification and protection of state significant land and renewable energy projects.

A statutory position of Independent Biosecurity Commissioner will be created and appointed by the end of the year.

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