VISITORS to Australia are being urged to ‘declare your dung’, with more than 296,000 biosecurity risk items intercepted at the nation’s international airports last year.
The Federal Government said live toads hiding in shoes in Melbourne to 5.5 kilograms of cow dung detected in Brisbane were just two of the 296,606 biosecurity risks intercepted across Australia’s international airports last year.
Detections included live fish, seeds, reptiles, fertilisers and plants as total biosecurity expenditure increased by more than 23 percent since 2012-13.
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud, said another worrying airport find included 50 turtles and lizards concealed among toy blocks in Sydney.
“International passengers definitely kept Australia’s biosecurity officers on their toes last year.
“Although some of the finds sound like a bit of a joke, this is no laughing matter,” Mr Littleproud said.
“Live fish, reptiles, fertilisers, plants and seeds could carry dangerous pests and diseases, threatening Australia’s $60 billion agricultural industries, the environment or human health.
“Even something as harmless as a flower could be carrying exotic insects with the potential to cripple our horticulture industries,” he said.
“It is concerning that the number of passengers bringing high risk food items, like meat and fruit, into Australia has increased over the past year.
“Seafood interceptions were high across most international airports, with 7717 items detected.
“Travellers who fail to declare risk items face serious financial penalties and in some cases prosecution. We all need to do our bit.”
“The Coalition is keeping Australia’s borders strong, delivering up to $200 million over four years to strengthen our biosecurity system through the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, on top of an additional $100 million to fight pests and weeds.
“Since 2012-13, biosecurity investment has increased by over 23 per cent, totalling $744.3 million this financial year,” Mr Littleproud said.
For more information on what can and cannot be brought into Australia, visit agriculture.gov.au/travelling.