AUSTRALIA'S first major test of its preparation for an avian flu pandemic will be conducted this week.
Exercise Eleusis will run between November 29 and December 1 and will involve some 1,000 people from the Federal and State governments, agriculture and health departments and the agriculture industry.
Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran and Health Minister Tony Abbott said the exercise was an important component of Australia's preparedness.
Mr McGauran said the exercise would employ a hypothetical scenario to test how well agriculture and health departments could work with industry to identify, contain and eradicate an animal disease outbreak.
"This is an opportunity to identify areas where we can continue to improve our emergency response systems," he said in a statement.
"The exercise has generated huge interest from overseas and Australia stands ready to share what we learn from the simulation with all countries."
Mr Abbott said the exercise scenario included hypothetical cases of people contracting avian influenza.
"All Australian health authorities are participating and this is an opportunity to test our emergency response plans," he said in a statement.
Mr Abbott said the Australian government had committed more than $300 million to pandemic preparedness, including $170 million on the Australian health response and $140 million to help regional neighbours.
The government believes avian influenza to be a threat but surveillance continues to show the H5N1 virus strain is not present in Australia.
Avian influenza and human pandemic influenza are different diseases and Avian influenza in birds does not easily cause disease in humans.