Media Release

No horsing around with biosecurity this Chinese New Year

8 January 2014 

Everyone can help maintain our pest and disease-free status and buck away bad biosecurity fortune by being biosecurity aware this Chinese New Year—the Year of the Horse—celebrated on January 31.

In 2013, 473 horses were imported into quarantine in Australia without incident, keeping our genetic stock and racing industry vibrant. However, it’s not just issues with imported horses our biosecurity officers are watching for.

Minister of Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said people could bring good biosecurity fortune to Australia by being mindful about sending or bringing items into the country in the lead up to Chinese New Year.

“Some gifts that are given as part of Chinese New Year celebrations could introduce pests and diseases into Australia,” Minister Joyce said.

Items considered a biosecurity risk include:

  • meat products (chicken, preserved pork sausages and dried beef)
  • plant matter - wooden artefacts, fresh bamboo shoots, lotus nuts and Chinese herbal medicines
  • fruit and vegetables (fresh or dried) – citrus, persimmons, lychees and longans
  • other products containing egg (especially duck eggs)

“People should be aware that biosecurity at our airports, seaports and mail centres links to the farm gate. What people send and bring into Australia can impact our farmers and key industries,” Minister Joyce said.

“If a significant foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak was to occur, it is expected to cost Australia about $50 billion over 10 years. We cannot afford the risk.

“With their autonomous, strong-minded and energetic natures, people born in the Year of the Horse can play a huge part by helping keep Australia free from pests and diseases.

“But we can’t just leave good biosecurity practices to those born in the Year of the Horse, we all can help by telling friends and family what they can’t bring or send to Australia.”

For more information about your role in Australia’s biosecurity system when celebrating cultural events, visit the department's cultural and seasonal events web page.