Media Release

Coalition delivers on commitment to examine Australia’s Import Risk Analysis process

11 July 2014

The Australian Government is delivering on another election commitment with consultation on the examination of Australia’s Import Risk Analysis (IRA) process starting today.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the examination is an opportunity to discuss Australia's IRA process – which helps identify and classify potential biosecurity risks, and leads to the development of policies and protocols to manage import risks.

"Australian farmers deserve to know that the best processes are in place to identify and analyse potential biosecurity risks that may come into Australia with new imports," Minister Joyce said.

"Our import risk analysis process is a fundamental tool in maintaining the integrity of our nation's level of biosecurity protection. Ensuring it is robust, transparent and scientifically based is essential for Australian farmers and exporters.

"We all know Australian agriculture is heavily reliant on international trade, with about 60 per cent of production and nearly 80 per cent of the sector's earnings coming from exports.

"It's important that we maintain our relative freedom from harmful pests and diseases but it’s also important that we retain an IRA process that does not create trade barriers that contravene international trade rules.

"Like any process, there are always opportunities to improve and I acknowledge that significant concerns have been raised about the IRA process previously, so I am asking everyone to provide their input – whether you're an importer, an exporter, a retailer, a producer, or any other organisation involved in the supply chain and even if you're just simply interested."

Over the coming months the Australian Government Department of Agriculture will be gathering information and ideas specifically around the key areas of:

  • transparency and engagement during the IRA process
  • the use of external scientific and economic expertise, and
  • the recognition of regional differences in the IRA process.

"It is a timely examination and follows the Senate’s Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee report into the risk assessments for Malaysian pineapples, Fijian ginger and New Zealand potatoes, which was released on the 31st March 2014," Minister Joyce said.

The examination will also take into account any issues raised in current inquiries or recent reviews commissioned by the Australian Government and Senate Committee, as well as ongoing areas of work such as the Agricultural Competiveness White Paper. It will also take into consideration other reports as well as issues and comments from stakeholders, clients and international trading partners on the Australian IRA process.

"I encourage you all to have your say over the next two months," Minister Joyce said.

For more information about the IRA examination, visit daff.gov.au/iraexamination.