The Biosecurity Act 2015 (Biosecurity Act) introduced on 16 June 2016 provides the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources with a wide range of modern regulatory tools to manage compliance. These are designed to encourage compliance with biosecurity requirements.
The new tools include:
- infringement notices
- civil penalties
- enforceable undertakings
- criminal sanctions
- monitoring and investigation powers for biosecurity officers.
We have adopted a specific compliance posture for the 12 month period following commencement of the Biosecurity Act. This transition period is intended to provide time to adjust to the introduction and application of the enforcement tools.
During the transition period the department is focusing on engagement and education to enable voluntary compliance. However, instances of deteriorating compliance or deliberate non-compliance will result in the full application of the compliance and enforcement tools provided by the Biosecurity Act.
The transition period does not limit the ability of biosecurity officials to perform functions and exercise powers to manage biosecurity risks.
Infringement Notice Scheme
Biosecurity Act 2015 introduced a broad new infringement notice scheme (INS) comprising of 49 infringements which can be issued across numerous environments such as airports, seaports, and for cargo.
Infringement notices provide an administrative method for dealing with certain breaches of the law and are typically used for low-level offences. An infringement notice provides an alternate to prosecution for an offence or litigation of a civil matter. For more information on infringement notices, see the
Infringement Notice Scheme page.
The Biosecurity Act includes a number of civil penalty provisions. Contravention of a civil penalty provision does not result in imprisonment or a criminal conviction. A civil penalty order can be obtained from a court and direct that a person pay a pecuniary penalty for the contravention of the civil penalty provision.
Enforceable undertakings are voluntary, binding agreements which are enforceable in a court.
They take the form of legally-binding commitments to comply with specified provisions of the Biosecurity Act and would typically be undertaken by someone who poses a biosecurity risk due to their likelihood of non-compliance with the Act.
An enforceable undertaking can be proposed by a company or individual, or as a result of discussions between us and the other party.
We cannot require or compel you to propose an enforceable undertaking. Similarly, the department is not required to accept an enforceable undertaking.
The Biosecurity Act provides for injunctions. An injunction is a court order that prevents a person from contravening a provision of the Biosecurity Act, or requires them to comply with a provision of the Biosecurity Act. This provides an additional regulatory tool with which we can enforce compliance.
The Biosecurity Act includes a number of criminal offences. We are committed to the investigation of potential offences and, where appropriate, will refer such matters to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for potential prosecution.
Monitoring and investigation powers
The Biosecurity Act allows officers to monitor and investigate potential non-compliance with the Act.
These powers are provided under the
Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014. The Biosecurity Act also provides officers with additional powers to manage biosecurity risk, such as the power to be accompanied by a detector dog and the power to take samples from a premises.