A biosecurity bill being considered in the Australia Senate needs to become law, as it would help strengthen the country’s agriculture industry, Australia’s National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) says.

The bill, initially proposed in 2014, would strengthen disease control measures to better manage the risk of diseases, such as avian influenza and African swine fever, from entering and spreading in Australia. The biosecurity bill is supported by four other bills, designed to help ensure a smooth transition from the Quarantine Act 1908.

Ron Cullen, chairman of the NFF Biosecurity Taskforce, appealed to Parliament to pass the bill.

“The enhancement of Australia’s biosecurity capability is critical to ensuring that Australian agriculture remains a significant contributor to the economy and local communities,” Cullen said. “Biosecurity Bill 2014 is one of the most fundamental and significant initiatives in this area for over a hundred years. It’s the biggest development since the commencement of the Quarantine Act 1908, which it will replace.”

“We welcome the concept and the functions of an inspector-general of biosecurity, as outlined in the bill, which recognizes the key underlying principles of the position: independence from government, an appropriate degree of separation from the director-general of biosecurity, transparency, and a firm scientific basis. There should be no further delays in passing this important bill.”

The NFF looks forward to working with the government on further strengthening Australia’s biosecurity through the development of supporting regulations, and will be monitoring the bill’s progress, Cullen added.