​Media Release

Improving Australia’s import risk analysis process

The Coalition Government has today delivered another significant election commitment, with the examination of Australia's import risk analysis (IRA) process now concluded and recommendations set to be implemented that will improve that process. 

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said today that future IRAs would involve stakeholders sooner, access external expertise more easily and look closely at ways to better explain regional differences. 

"In opposition, the Coalition recognised that Australia's agricultural sector relies on strong and effective biosecurity policies to safeguard our favourable animal and plant health status, and which underpins our international market access and domestic productivity.  

"After careful consultation with producers and affected stakeholders the Coalition identified the need for improvement in the IRA process and consequently committed to conducting an examination to address issues and concerns held by stakeholders about the process. 

An IRA is critical in identifying and assessing potential biosecurity risks, and supports the development of policies and protocols to manage import risks, it is therefore vital that the process is conducted in a clear and transparent manner with adequate communication with all potentially affected stakeholders. 

Minister Joyce said the examination discussed Australia's IRA process with industry groups, importers, exporters, state and territory governments, environmental organisations, universities, scientific research bodies and other interested groups. 

Consultation ran from July to October 2014 and the Department of Agriculture met with and heard from more than 100 stakeholders and received 61 written submissions. 

Minister Joyce said most stakeholders were satisfied with the current process, but raised issues about consultation and communication before and during an IRA; the role of external expertise in the IRA process; and how regional differences were considered in IRA reports. 

The examination's recommendations include:

  • establishing and trialling a stakeholder liaison officer for each IRA
  • a new and more integrated way of using scientific expertise
  • consultation with affected stakeholders early in the process
  • exploring ways to better explain regional differences during an IRA. 

"The feedback received has been very helpful and the consultation with stakeholders and industry will continue," Minister Joyce said.  

"My department will continue to talk with stakeholders to implement the recommendations through the development of a new regulation and guidelines for the risk analysis process.  This will help to ensure that any new processes and policies are suitable and do not introduce unnecessary red tape, as well as continuing to meet Australia's international rights and obligations." 

The new regulation for conducting biosecurity import risk analysis falls under the new Biosecurity Act 2015 which will take effect on 16 June 2016*. 

The examination of the IRA process report and recommendations can be found at agriculture.gov.au/iraexamination.

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* Date amended for accuracy on 20.9.15