One year since the most comprehensive overhaul of national biosecurity in more than a century came into force, the health of Australian farms, families, flora and fauna is being protected through stronger and more effective legislation than ever before.
Head of Biosecurity Policy at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Matt Koval, said the Biosecurity Act 2015 modernised regulatory frameworks and delivered the flexibility required to respond to changing biosecurity risks in a global trading environment.
“The new Biosecurity Act is designed to protect our $59 billion agricultural industries and the capacity for our nation to produce and export clean, safe and sustainable agricultural goods to the world,” Mr Koval said.
“It’s a vital function for Australia—but it’s not just about stopping threats at the border.
“Biosecurity involves many industries and millions of goods, vessels, parcels and people coming to Australia—everyone has a role to play in maintaining our world class biosecurity status.
“The new legislation recognises that biosecurity is a shared responsibility and reflects the essential role played by industry, stakeholders and the broader community to protect Australia from the threat of pests and diseases.”
Executive Director of the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia, Stephen Morris, said the new legislation provided more certainty around the responsibilities associated with importing cargo into Australia.
“We have worked closely with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to ensure that the businesses we represent are able to better manage the biosecurity risk associated with international trade and supply chain management—without compromising efficiency,” Mr Morris said.
Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Federation of International Forwarders, Brian Lovell, said Australia’s reputation for producing high value, high quality produce was largely due to this country being free of the most severe pests and diseases found in other parts of the world.
“The strength of our national biosecurity system provides for an unparalleled export advantage—underpinning market access across the globe,” Mr Lovell said.
“The new biosecurity legislation is providing us with the tools to actively protect that advantage and the flexibility to meet the constantly changing demands of a modern trading environment.”
Mr Koval said that to ensure a smooth transition and give industry time to adjust to new business practices, only those provisions that would be critical to operations in the first year had been rolled out.
“This approach was praised by the Australian National Audit Office in its report of January 2017, which said it meant industry was well prepared for the transition,” Mr Koval said.
“Over the coming year we will continue to work closely with industry to progressively roll out the remaining biosecurity provisions.”