​​​Media Release

Stronger biosecurity controls over potential disease carriers

15 February 2017​

The Biosecurity Amendment (Ballast Water and Other Measures) Bill 2017 will enhance biosecurity powers and further protect Australia’s $60 billion agricultural industries
The Bill will provide powers to direct airports and seaports to control any incursion of exotic mosquitoes and other disease carriers
It will also provide additional protection for coastal environments from the risk of marine pest incursions​

Australia’s biosecurity system has been further strengthened today, with the introduction of legislation that will provide additional safeguards, both by air and by sea, to protect our $60 billion agricultural industries.

Introduced into Parliament today by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, the Biosecurity Amendment (Ballast Water and Other Measures) Bill 2017 will provide additional powers to control disease carriers at Australia’s airports and seaports, including on incoming aircraft and vessels.

“Threats to our biosecurity can emerge today faster than ever before. The recent global outbreak of Zika virus, spread by mosquitoes, has shown us how important the control of disease-carrying pests is,” Minister Joyce said.

“This includes spraying insecticide on incoming aircraft and vessels to kill mosquitoes capable of carrying Zika virus as well as other disease-carrying vectors so they don’t establish populations in Australia.”

Minister Joyce said the Bill will also position Australia to ratify the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediment.

“Ballast water, which is water taken by ships before departure to improve the stability and discharged at the next port of call, is a threat to Australia’s biosecurity because plants and animals that live in the ocean are also picked up from the point of departure,” Minister Joyce said.

“We want to strengthen the management of ballast water in ships, to provide protection for our fisheries and coastal environments from the risk of marine pest incursions by fostering new, more effective, ballast water treatment technologies, and phasing out risky ballast water disposal.

“We’ve worked with the states and territories, communicable disease experts and the shipping and maritime industry on these amendments.”

Minister Joyce said the changes will achieve national consistency throughout Australia, reducing the confusion for industry having to abide by different ballast water management requirements in different states.

“There are severe penalties for those who fail to comply with the Act. An individual may be imprisoned for up to 5 years, fined up to $54,000, or both, for failure to comply with human health requirements and up to $360,000 for a ship operator failing to comply with the ballast water requirements,” Minister Joyce said.

“Biosecurity continues to play a critical role in reducing risk and shaping our nation to become one of the few countries in the world to remain free from many of the world’s most severe pests and diseases.

“This Bill will complement our current suite of biosecurity legislation to protect our vital agricultural industries and the capacity for our nation to continue producing and exporting the highest quality, clean and sustainably produced agricultural goods to the world.”

Fast facts
  • Ballast water on vessels is recognised as a major source of spreading exotic marine pests around the world, which affects biodiversity and can lead to substantial economic loss for maritime industries.
  • The Ballast Water Convention was adopted in 2004 and signed by the Howard Government in 2005. It is an important global initiative involving over fifty countries aimed at protecting marine environments. It will come into force internationally on 8 September 2017 and Australia hopes to ratify it this year.​