​Joint Media Release

NEWS FLASH: Santa’s bells are jingling all the way to Oz

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce
Santa Claus

13 December 2015

With twelve days to go, Santa Claus and the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, have confirmed that Christmas will go ahead as scheduled this year with arrangements well underway to ensure that all (well-behaved) Australian children will indeed have a very merry Christmas.

Minister Joyce said that like all big events, there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes to get Santa into the country in time to bring Christmas cheer to all Australians.

"You've got to admit, Santa Claus has a big job – but so do we in managing Australia's biosecurity system. We can't just let foreign animals, unknown packages and soiled vehicles into the country willy nilly, so we need to make some special considerations to help Santa get his job done," Minister Joyce said.

"That's why we work closely with Santa and his elves in the lead up to Christmas to make sure everything runs as it should."

Santa Claus praised the work of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in making his visit stress-free each year.

"I've worked with the department for many years now, and each year the process gets easier.

"Like I always say to the Easter Bunny, with a bit of extra planning and so long as you declare anything that you need to, you won't have any problems," Mr Claus said.

"My elves have passed all the Christmas presents on to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources early, and the friendly staff and detector dogs at Australia's international mail centres are working overtime screening the presents in time for Christmas Eve.

Minister Joyce thanked Santa and his elves for their cooperation in meeting Australia's strict biosecurity rules at this busy time and in helping to ensure Christmas was as successful this year as in previous years.

"More than 146 million mail items move through our mail centres each year, and we usually see around a 50 per cent increase in mail during this holiday period," Minister Joyce said.

"I take no joy in the fact that we seized about 5000 items during the holiday period last year – and I'd like to see that number drastically reduced this year.

"Christmas items like wreaths, food and some toys made of wood or containing seeds or sand have the potential to bring pests and diseases which could harm human, plant and animal health, so it's best not to send them.

"We've also got biosecurity officers on standby ready to check Santa's sleigh and boots—and then check them twice—for live insects, soil and other contaminants, which could unknowingly carry prohibited seeds and other pests and diseases."

Santa said he wants to make sure he stays off the government's 'naughty list' this Christmas.

"Even I'm not entirely sure how many houses I visit every Christmas Eve, but I can tell you it's a busy night when one small delay could mean some very sad kids on Christmas morning," Mr Claus said.

"Making sure all the necessary arrangements are in place ahead of schedule means everything will run smoothly and Christmas day can be enjoyed by billions of people around the world."

To find out more about Australia's biosecurity system and what can and can't be brought or sent to Australia, visit agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity.​