Tougher penalties tighten the biosecurity net

People who flout Australia’s biosecurity laws will face even tougher penalties with new powers granted to biosecurity officers.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt said the Biosecurity Amendment (Advanced Compliance Measures) Bill 2023, passed by Parliament this week, was a timely revisit of Australia’s biosecurity.

“Australia’s biosecurity system is put to the test every day through the arrival of travellers, aircraft, cargo, international mail and parcels, and the unregulated movement of wild animals, the wind and waves,” Minister Watt said.

“We rely on our strong biosecurity system to protect our agriculture, people, environment and economy. Unfortunately, there are still people who put this at risk, either accidentally or deliberately.

“That’s why we’ve put forward this amendment to the Biosecurity Act 2015, building on our earlier moves to strengthen our biosecurity systems.

“Firstly, it will increase a range of civil penalties that apply to individuals and regulated entities who fail to comply with their obligations under the Biosecurity Act.

“In some cases, these penalties can be as high as $313,000.”

Minister Watt said the new laws will also enable biosecurity officers to access information from people arriving in Australia by air or sea through the provision of their passport and other travel documents.

“These changes will give us more information to support a targeted approach to dealing with non-compliance and streamline the biosecurity risk assessment of travellers,” he said.

“It also introduces new strict liability offences to a range of existing provisions in the Biosecurity Act, allowing for infringement notices to be issued for less-serious incidents that would still put Australia's agriculture, people, environment and economy at risk.

“Strong biosecurity is essential to protecting more than $90 billion worth of agricultural production and $5.7 trillion worth of unique, environmental assets.

“Our biosecurity system is strong, but to keep Australia safe, the laws that underpin the system need to remain fit-for-purpose.

“Biosecurity is a shared responsibility, and this Bill means we will all play our part to keep our country safe.”

The amendment can be read here: Biosecurity Amendment (Advanced Compliance Measures) Bill 2023 – Parliament of Australia (