Fines increased for endangering Australia’s biosecurity system

Sheep Central November 30, 2022

BIOSECURITY threat fines have been increased to potentially more than $260,000 for civil offenses, in amendments passed by the Albanese Government this week.

The Albanese Government has yesterday passed amendments in Parliament to the Biosecurity Act 2015 that are expected to further bolster Australia’s strong biosecurity framework.

The government said the amendments would allow the government to react swiftly to biosecurity threats and to increase the penalties for those people caught intentionally doing the wrong thing.

Failure to comply with these new requirements will result in civil penalties of up to $266,400 or an on the spot fine of $4440, the highest amount we have seen for an infringement notice for an individual under the Biosecurity Act.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt said the changes ensure Australia can adapt and respond to evolving risks and meet the challenges of the next decade and beyond.

“Biosecurity threats are increasing due to a rise in the volume and complexity of trade, the effects of climate change and the ever-increasing worldwide spread of pests and diseases.

“The new measures will strengthen Australia’s biosecurity system, helping to protect our $70.3 billion agricultural export industries, protect 1.6 million jobs across the agriculture supply chain, and protect our way of life,” Mr Watt said.

“Biosecurity risks can present in many ways at our ports, mail centres, airports and northern coastline.

“In the case of Foot and Mouth Disease, risks can even include the clothing and footwear of travellers,” he said.

“Early identification and assessment of such risks remains fundamental to a responsive and effective biosecurity system.

“The measures will also be used to target and respond to future threats which could potentially include lumpy skin disease, African swine fever or Xylella,” Mr Watt said.

Minister Watt said the amendments will also increase a range of penalties for behaviour that results in unacceptable risks of diseases and pests entering and establishing in Australia.

“Under the previous penalties scheme, individuals who attempted to conceal high risk goods, including within their luggage were subject to the same penalties as individuals who conducted less serious behaviour.

“This may include actions such as sewing goods into the lining of their suitcase or placing goods within a container with incorrect markings or labels,” he said.

“People who jeopardise Australia’s biosecurity system by failing to comply with these new requirements will face civil penalties of up to 1,200 penalty units, or $266,400.

“If hit with an infringement notice, they will have to pay $4440 – nearly $2000 more than previously issued.”

Mr Watt said the amendments will also help Australia implement important lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic by expanding pre-arrival reporting requirements, to ensure biosecurity officers have accurate information to assess the biosecurity risk associated with the arrival of vessels and aircraft.

“Operators and persons in charge of these aircrafts and vessels who do not comply with the requirements will be subject to tougher sanctions of up to $222,000 for an individual or $1.1 million for corporate bodies, to better reflect the seriousness of these crimes.

“This government will not tolerate behaviour that jeopardises Australia’s agricultural industries, our food supply chain, and our unique way of life,” Mr Watt said.

Click here for more information on the new fines and penalties.


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