Biosecurity Bill 2014 and supporting Bills

The Biosecurity Bill 2014 along with supporting legislation was passed by the Parliament on 14 May 2015. The new legislation will come into effect 12 months after receiving royal assent from the Governor General. This is expected in the coming weeks. The 12 month delay is to allow for clients, staff and stakeholders to understand their rights and responsibilities under the new biosecurity legislation and to enable a smooth transition. Some parts of the legislation have a further delayed commencement date and transitional arrangements.

Until commencement date of the new legislation, the Quarantine Act 1908 remains the primary piece of biosecurity legislation in Australia. The Biosecurity Act 2015 will then replace the Quarantine Act 1908.

The department is currently working with stakeholders, state and territory governments and clients to implement practices and procedures under the new Act. 

The Biosecurity Act 2015 and supporting legislation will support the biosecurity system in any age, regardless of advances in transport and technology or future challenges. Just as with the Quarantine Act 1908, the biosecurity legislation will be co-administered by the Ministers responsible for Agriculture and Health.

A robust biosecurity system is important in helping prevent the entry and establishment of invasive species likely to harm Australia's natural environment, agricultural systems, community health and economy. Scientific evidence and advice plays an important role in our biosecurity system to help us make the right decisions, at the right time, to achieve the best results.

As well as playing an obvious role protecting Australia’s environment and way of life, safeguarding Australia from unwanted biosecurity risks also protects Australia’s economy. This helps maintain our reputation as a producer of high quality and safe agricultural products for the world.

To make sure you receive the latest information about the new biosecurity legislation and supporting practices and procedures, please subscribe to the biosecurity legislation distribution list, email New Biosecurity Legislation or phone 1800 040 629.

Biosecurity legislation

The biosecurity legislation consists of the Biosecurity Bill 2014 and supporting Bills.

The Biosecurity Bill 2014 provides for a strong and modern regulatory framework for the management of biosecurity risks to support Australia’s biosecurity system.

More information is provided on the Australian Parliament House website:

  • The Biosecurity Bill  2014
  • Explanatory memorandum for the Biosecurity Bill 2014
  • Second reading speech on the Biosecurity Bill 2014.

Supporting Acts manage the transitional process from the Quarantine Act 1908 to the Biosecurity Bill 2014 including extended transitional arrangements to manage biosecurity risk and amendments to other Commonwealth legislation.

More information is provided on the Australian Parliament House website:

Biosecurity Act 2015 - After Passage and Royal Assent but before commencement FAQs

[expand all]

When was the new biosecurity legislation passed?

The Bill was passed by the Parliament on 14 May 2105 The new legislation will come into effect 12 months after receiving royal assent from the Governor General. This is expected in the coming weeks.

Where can I get a copy of the Biosecurity Act 2015?

Copies of the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its supporting Acts will be available on the ComLaw website.

What will happen now that passage of the biosecurity legislation has occurred?

The Biosecurity Act 2015 and its supporting Acts will fully commence 12 months after receiving royal assent. This is expected in the coming weeks. The 12 month delay is to allow for clients, staff and stakeholders to understand their rights and responsibilities under the new biosecurity legislation and to enable a smooth transition. The department is currently working with stakeholders, state and territory governments and clients to implement practices and procedures under the new Act.

When will the new biosecurity legislation commence?

The Biosecurity Act 2015 and its supporting Acts will commence 12 months after receiving royal assent. This is expected in the coming weeks. The twelve month delay is to allow for clients, staff and stakeholders to understand their rights and responsibilities under the new biosecurity legislation and to enable a smooth transition. Some parts of the legislation have a further delayed commencement date and transitional arrangements.

Until then, the Quarantine Act 1908, remains the primary piece of biosecurity legislation in Australia.

It is expected that, in the majority of cases, dealings with the department will be largely the same.

What are the Acts that support the Biosecurity Act 2015

The main piece of biosecurity legislation is the Biosecurity Act 2015. The Biosecurity Act 2015 is supported by four other Acts which are designed to help ensure the smooth transition from the Quarantine Act 1908 to the Biosecurity Act 2015.

These supporting Acts are the:

  • Biosecurity (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2015
  • three Biosecurity Charging Imposition Bills including:
    • The Quarantine Charges (Imposition-General) Amendment Act 2015.
    • The Quarantine Charges (Imposition-Customs) Amendment Act 2015.
    • The Quarantine Charges (Imposition-Excise) Amendment Act 2015.

An explanatory memorandum for the Biosecurity (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2015 is available on the Australian Parliament House (APH) website.

An explanatory memorandum for the three Biosecurity Charging Imposition Acts is also available on the APH website.

What is the Biosecurity (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2015?

The Biosecurity (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2015 (the Act) is the first supporting Act to the Biosecurity Act 2015. It is designed to facilitate the transition from the Quarantine Act 1908 to the Biosecurity Act 2015

The Act does this by ensuring that biosecurity risk managed under the Quarantine Act 1908 continues to be managed following its repeal. For example, if a person is directed not to move a good under the Quarantine Act 1908, that direction would still be valid under the Biosecurity Act2015. Another example is if an import permit application is made under the Quarantine Act 1908, it would be taken to have been made under the Biosecurity Act 2015.

In some key areas, the transition will take place over a longer period of time so businesses have more time to become compliant with new requirements and be able to better manage the volume of work associated with this change.
For more information access the Act and summary on the Australian Parliament House website.

What are the other three supporting Acts to the Biosecurity Act 2015?

Three other supporting Acts to the Biosecurity Act 2015 were also introduced as part of the biosecurity legislation. They are the:

  • The Quarantine Charges (Imposition-General) Amendment Act 2015.
  • Quarantine Charges (Imposition-Customs) Amendment Act 2015.
  • Quarantine Charges (Imposition-Excise) Amendment Act 2015.

These Acts are designed to amend the current quarantine charging arrangements to make sure that the Commonwealth can continue to impose charges appropriately.

These Acts do not set the amount of the charges nor do they apply any financial impacts on business. The charges and who is liable and exempt from paying the charges is set in delegated legislation.

For more information access the Acts and summaries on the Australian Parliament House website.

Why is there more than one Act?

While the Biosecurity Act 2015 contains most of the operative provisions that will manage our biosecurity risks, there is still more to the story.

Many other pieces of Commonwealth legislation reference or rely on the Quarantine Act 1908 and it is important to update the statute book. It is also important to enable a smooth transition when the legislation commences, so that management of biosecurity risks can continue. These provisions are included in separate amendment Acts so when they have done their job, they can be removed from the statute book.

Will the department be consulting with stakeholders before the Acts commence?

The department has commenced targeted consultation with stakeholders. There will be further opportunities for engagement as the delegated legislation and underlying administrative polices are developed.

The department will work with stakeholders and clients to implement practices and procedures that are operational and will maintain Australia’s favourable pest and disease status, as well as making sure everyone is ready for the change.

It is expected that in the majority of cases, dealings with the department will be largely the same.

Will the department be consulting on the development of regulations and policies?

Yes. The department will be working with stakeholders, state and territory governments and clients to design and develop delegated legislation and policies that underpin the legislation in readiness for commencement.

More information will be provided on the department’s website as work progresses.

When will I be able to provide comments on the new regulations?

The consultation process for the regulations will be staged throughout 2015. It is intended that by the end of 2015, a complete set of regulations will be available.

Make sure you don’t miss an update by subscribing to the biosecurity legislation distribution list.

Why has the Australian Government replaced the Quarantine Act 1908 with new biosecurity legislation?

The Quarantine Act was old and outdated. It had been amended more than fifty times. It was written at a time when people and goods only arrived by sea and to respond to diseases like the bubonic plague, cholera and the measles.

Amendments to the Act had made it very complex. It was difficult to understand and enforce. It also lacked an effective compliance regime – penalties for breaching the Act were either small fines or criminal prosecution with nothing in between.

A number of significant reviews of the biosecurity system, most recently the 2008 Review of Australia’s Quarantine and Biosecurity (Beale review), outlined opportunities to improve the system, including the development of new legislation.

The new biosecurity legislation has been designed to support the biosecurity system in any age, regardless of advances in transport or technology or future challenges.

What happens to the Quarantine Act 1908 until the commencement of the biosecurity legislation?

The Biosecurity Act 2015 and its supporting Acts were drafted to commence twelve months after passage through Parliament occurred. Passage occurred on 14 May 2015. This means that the Quarantine Act 1908 remains the primary means of managing biosecurity risk until the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its supporting Acts come into effect.

More information will be provided on the department’s website as work progresses.

I am unfamiliar with the legislative process, how do all the legislative components fit together?

The Biosecurity Bill 2014 and its supporting Bills were proposed as primary legislation.  When Parliament passes legislation, and it receives Royal Assent the Bills become Acts. Each Bill became an Act and their respective names were changed from Bills to Acts.

These Acts are primary legislation.

Primary legislation typically contains broad principles that are supported in delegated legislation and administrative processes.  Acts can authorise persons or bodies other than the Parliament to create delegated legislation under the Act, such as regulations or proclamations.

Consideration of operational matters for the Biosecurity Act 2015, such as the process for conducting a biosecurity import risk analysis, will be outlined in delegated legislation.

Delegated legislation is law made to supplement and provide more detailed requirements under primary legislation. Delegated legislation can include regulations, proclamations, determinations and orders. Regulations for the Biosecurity Act 2015 are being developed throughout 2015 and the department will be consulting with affected stakeholders during this time.

Administrative documents and policies are a range of materials that are designed to support primary and delegated legislation. An example of this is operational handbooks for biosecurity staff which outline job specific functions and training requirements.

How can I find out more about the Biosecurity Act 2015?

For more information about the Biosecurity Act 2015, please email New Biosecuirty Legislation or phone the department on 1800 040 629.

Make sure you don’t miss an update by subscribing to the biosecurity legislation distribution list.

Last reviewed:
20 May 2015