​Media Release

Australia protected from 340,000 potential biosecurity breaches last year

21 March 2018

  • Some 340,000 biosecurity risk items intercepted across Australia in 2017; 120,000 at Sydney Airport alone
  • Includes duck tongues, chicken feet, cooked eggs, barbequed rat, lizard's feet and skinned frogs
  • Airport biosecurity safeguards Australia from significant pests and diseases that can impact on environment, industries, plant, animal and human health

Sydney's biosecurity officers and detector dogs continue to defend Australia against potentially devastating invaders - pests and diseases - with more than 120,000 biosecurity risk items intercepted at Sydney Airport in 2017. 

Speaking from Australia's busiest airport in Sydney today, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud said the team and their counterparts around Australia intercept and neutralise more than 5000 threats a week.

"The 165 women and men stationed at Sydney Airport are on our front line, defending Australia and our clean, green farms and food from invading diseases and pests," Minister Littleproud said.

"Agriculture, fisheries and forestry employ more than 300,000 Australians, pump $63 billion to our economy and supply 93 per cent of our domestic food according to the NFF, so it's worth protecting. 

"Confiscated items include duck tongues, chicken feet, cooked eggs, a barbequed rat, lizard's feet and skinned frogs.

"Any one of the intercepted items could be carrying deadly pests or diseases which could decimate Australian farming and our environment - or carry a disease affecting humans.

"In 2017, the biosecurity team at Sydney Airport seized more than 20,000 kilograms of meat, around 7000 kilograms of seafood, 3000 kilograms of seeds and 2000 kilograms of bananas.

"We continue to improve the system to protect our $63 billion agricultural industries, the environment and community health.

"We thank the women and men who work day and night to keep our country safe from threats to our farming, our food and our health. They are some of Australia's finest."

The Coalition Government has delivered up to $200 million over four years to strengthen Australia's biosecurity system through the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, on top of an additional $100 million to fight pests and weeds.

Since 2013, the Coalition has increased biosecurity investment by over 29 per cent, totalling $783.2 million this financial year.

For more information on biosecurity risk items and what can and can't be brought to Australia from overseas, visit agriculture.gov.au/travelling.

Fast Facts:

  • ABARES estimates that Australia's biosecurity system saves farmers up to $17,500 per farm per year.
  • In 2017, a total of around 340,000 biosecurity risk items were intercepted across Australia's international airports, mail centres and seaports.
  • On average, Australia's detector dog teams intercept more than 50,000 biosecurity risk items across Australia each year.​