Australia’s biosecurity officers have uncovered a significant plant risk at Brisbane Airport, after a passenger was found to be carrying concealed citrus budwood in the inner tubing of a tyre.
Head of Plant Biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Dr Marion Healy, said the passenger did not declare the plant material and will now be subject to further enforcement action.
“This was a direct attempt to try and circumvent our biosecurity system and yet another example of the great work undertaken by our officers on the frontline to manage that risk,” Dr Healy said.
“When searching the passenger’s baggage, officers located a tyre with an inner tube that was secured with tape. The officers removed the tape and inner tube and discovered a single budwood stick, which has since been identified as cumquat.
“If people incorrectly import plant material to Australia, it can harbour pests and diseases that can impact on our horticultural industries, environment and market access.
“What makes this case even more shocking was that the department identified that the passenger is employed in a horticulture sector that was significantly impacted by the 2005 outbreak of citrus canker.
“The fact that this passenger has put his own industry, as well as the whole of Australia, at risk is both unbelievable and disappointing.
“The last thing we need is people bringing these risks into Australia deliberately—but this is another example of our ability to manage that risk when it does happen.”
The case has now been referred to the department’s enforcement section for further investigation.
The department undertakes a range of important biosecurity work at Australia’s international airports to safeguard the nation from pests and diseases present in other countries.
Last year, 340,000 biosecurity risk items were intercepted at Australia's borders, including live marine animals, reptiles, seeds and plants.
For more information on Australia’s biosecurity conditions and what can and cannot be brought to Australia from overseas, visit Travelling or sending goods to Australia.