Review Of The Tussock Moth Eradication Programme

  • Simon Upton

The Biosecurity Council has held its first meeting this afternoon. One of its immediate tasks will be to consider the recommendations of the Report of the White Spotted Tussock Moth Review Panel.

Mr Upton said, ``while a response to the tussock moth infestation in East Auckland was necessary, the report criticised aspects of the tussock moth programme. The Biosecurity Council will now carefully consider the report before further action, if any, is taken on the ground next season''.

In October 1996 the Caretaker Government decided to review the tussock moth eradication programme. A panel of three were asked to assess the programme's effectiveness, with a view to future management of new pest incursions.

The review panel praised those concerned with `on the ground' operations in Auckland, particularly the community consultation and implementation of spraying.

However, the review highlighted the absence of adequate science input, poor information flows and interactions between departments, and the lack of a generic decision-making framework for dealing with pest incursions. The co-ordination of effective interaction between departments was clearly identified as a problem during the early stages of the tussock moth eradication programme.

``The Government's establishment of a Biosecurity council and the appointment of a separate Minister effectively meet the co-ordination problems identified'', said Mr Upton.

The establishment of the Biosecurity Council aligns with the report's recommendation that a top-level biosecurity committee be established by Cabinet, `with the overall purpose of providing advice to the Minister for Biosecurity on all aspects of the preparation for and response to pest incursions and unwanted organisms'.

Another key recommendation relates to the establishment of a `common methodology that integrates risk assessment and cost benefit analysis to support decision making on all pest incursions'. The development of such methodology has been one of the tasks put to the Biosecurity Council at its first meeting.

Mr Upton added, ``the report also highlighted deficiencies in the provision of expert science input to the programme. The inclusion of the Chief Scientist on the Council should facilitate the necessary input at an early stage in any future programmes''.

``Thus, the report includes valuable recommendations; some have been acted on already, some will require further analysis. It has drawn attention to gaps within the capability of departments to respond to new pest incursions which need to be plugged'', concluded the Minister.

The Council will now consider the report which has been released today.