I would like to start Senators by acknowledging that Australian farmers are experiencing challenging conditions at present, particularly in relation to the current mouse plague impacting many regional communities – including those here in my own region of the New England in Northern New South Wales.
In response to the mouse plague, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) has prioritised the processing of emergency permits, issuing 5 so far.
We continue to work with industry to support the regional communities affected by this outbreak and we are currently considering a further 3 emergency permit applications.
Two of those permits are from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries.
Those permits seek approval to use a chemical known as bromadiolone, which is proposed to be mixed with farmer-supplied grain at NSW Local Land Services sites.
The APVMA is aware of some misinformation in the media and on social media stating that the APVMA has already approved these permits.
To be clear, the permits remain under assessment.
All permits must meet the statutory safety, efficacy and trade criteria, and an assessment to determine that the APVMA is satisfied in this regard is always carried out prior to a permit being issued.
This includes an environmental safety assessment to ensure the safety of potential non-target impact species.
One of the best ways the APVMA can assist farmers and producers is through the timely assessment of applications.
Across the first 3 quarters of this year we have processed 95% of all applications within statutory timeframes.
We recognise that our success depends on us continuously improving the way we regulate and being adaptable to changing circumstances.
We take very seriously our role of protecting people, animals, the environment, and Australia’s trade, while being responsive to the needs of our stakeholders.