The Biosecurity Act 2015

​​​​​​Call 1800 040 629 or email New Biosecurity Legislation to find out more about the Biosecurity Act 2015 and what it means for you.

A Modern Biosecurity System

Important changes to Australia’s Biosecurity System came into effect on 16 June 2016 with commencement of the Biosecurity Act 2015.

The Biosecurity Act replaced the Quarantine Act 1908 and is designed to be flexible and responsive to changes in technology and future challenges. The Act:

  • provides a modern regulatory framework
  • reduces duplication and regulatory impacts
  • allows for current and future trading environments
  • allows for collaboration across government and industry.

A full list of the primary legislation, associated acts and supporting delegated legislation is available on the Biosecurity legislation page.

The Biosecurity Act sets up new requirements and regulatory powers that will affect how the department manages the biosecurity risks associated with goods, people and conveyances entering Australia. Some changes will be more noticeable, while others will happen behind the scenes.

We aim to make compliance with the Biosecurity Act easy for you and your business. Information explaining what to expect from 16 June provides a view of how the legislation affects specific industries and client groups including:

View the Introduction to the Biosecurity Act Interactive Learning tool to gain an overview of the Biosecurity Act, including key roles and powers, new terminology, where the Act applies and who will be affected. Or, read through the quick guide to the Biosecurity Act to gain a better understanding of the key themes of change.

Engaging clients and stakeholders from drafting to implementation

Drafting of the Biosecurity Act started in 2012. It was developed through extensive consultation with staff across the department as well as with industry, state and territory governments, environment groups, health professionals, trading partners and the general public.

More than 400 organisations, representing a range of sectors were consulted on the design and development of the new legislation. Since receiving royal assent to the Biosecurity Bill 2014 on 16 June 2015, the department has continued to engage staff and stakeholders to develop delegated legislation and supporting policies and procedures in preparation for commencement.

Active stakeholder engagement throughout 2015–16 provided multiple opportunities for clients and stakeholders; state and territory governments, other government agencies and international trading partners to become informed about the changes to the legislative framework, understand their obligations and any changes for their businesses and organisations.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources engagement with stakeholders on the new legislation included:

  • public consultation on the draft regulations and other delegated legislation under the Biosecurity Act
  • working groups, including National Farmers’ Federation Biosecurity Taskforce and ongoing meetings other Commonwealth Government agencies
  • engagement with international trading partners through SPS notices, Cables, Biosecurity Advice Notices, Import Industry Advice Notices, New Biosecurity Legislation advice notices and notices on the International Plant Protection Convention website
  • engagement with the states and territories through the National Biosecurity Committee
  • a Biosecurity Legislation Industry Forum for peak industry bodies held in Canberra on 23 February 2016
  • Biosecurity Legislation Info​rmation Sessions held in each Australian capital city during March and April 2016, with over 700 registrations from industry members, state and territory governments, and other key clients and stakeholders
  • regular Industry Advice Notices providing updates about the new legislation and opportunities to participate in information sessions
  • targeted meetings and workshops with key stakeholders, including the department’s consultative committees
  • release of an Introduction to the Biosecurity Act Interactive e-learning tool for industry
  • a designated hotline and mailbox to respond to enquiries from the public about the new legislation.

Six key principles underpin the Biosecurity Act:

  1. Legislation for a strong agricultural industry—the Biosecurity Act provides a strong, clear and flexible legislative framework.
  2. Clear legislation to manage biosecurity risks—the Biosecurity Act clearly sets out the powers that can be exercised by officials as well as the requirements of those being regulated.
  3. Increasing efficiency and decreasing regulation—the Biosecurity Act is outcomes focused and based on a key principle of achieving the best biosecurity outcome while minimising regulatory impact.
  4. Improving compliance—the Biosecurity Act enables more effective and efficient targeting of non-compliant behaviour or activities, while reducing the burden on those that are compliant.
  5. Providing protection from public health risks—the Biosecurity Act contains a range of biosecurity measures to manage the public health risk posed by serious communicable diseases.
  6. Meeting Australia’s international obligations—the Biosecurity Act allows for the management of biosecurity risks in a manner that is consistent with Australia’s international obligations.

The Biosecurity Act applies to ‘Australian territory’. This means 12 nautical miles from the coast line, and includes Australia, Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and other external territories if they are prescribed by the Act, such as Norfolk Island. It also includes the airspace over and coastal seas of these areas.