>Australia is proposing a network of specialist diagnostic laboratories with New Zealand as a defense against exotic pests and diseases.
The plan calls for setting diagnostic standards and tests for high-priority exotic plant pests and an international Internet-based diagnostic expertise register.
Both countries have a shortage of plant pathologists and entomologists. Also, the cost of diagnostic equipment is high.
A Plant Health Australia spokesman said it would not involve the construction of new labs but rather use of existing facilities.
The trans-Tasman network would complement a national exotic pest and disease eradication plan proposed by Plant Health Australia and now before the government in Canberra.