Airport biosecurity concerns spike on the Gold Coast

​Australia’s biosecurity officers seized more than 6,760 items of biosecurity concern from the Gold Coast Airport in 2016, up 15 per cent from 2015.

Head of Biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Lyn O’Connell, said the increase in seizures at the airport was a concern for all Australians because exotic pests and diseases had the potential to hurt our way of life.

“A disease like foot and mouth that isn’t present in Australia can be carried here by a passenger bringing a meat product—which is why we’re so concerned about the increase in the number of meat products we’re seizing at the border,” Ms O’Connell said.

“ABARES modelling has calculated that an outbreak could wreck our livestock industries and cost Australia more than $50 billion over 10 years.

“Passengers entering Australia need to think about the risk they’re posing to Australia when they pack their bags.

“My advice is leave it behind—most delicacies, including meat, seafood and fruit are available for sale in Australia.”

Items seized at the Gold Coast Airport in 2016 included:

  • 969 kg of meat, a 28.5% increase from 2015
  • 180 kg of seafood, a 114% increase from 2015
  • 176 kg of apples and pears, a 70% increase from 2015
  • 300 items of egg products, a 98% increase from 2015
  • 419 items of citrus, a 33% increase from 2015

“I recognise that international passenger numbers are increasing at the Gold Coast airport—by about eight per cent in the past year,” Ms O’Connell said.

“We can expect this trend to continue as Australia remains an aspirational holiday destination for many people overseas.

“We need their help to manage biosecurity risks so that the environment, and native flora and fauna that so many people travel here to see, is safeguarded.

“Australia is free from rabies but should it get here we can expect it to hurt our emblematic marsupials, like kangaroos and koalas, who are mammals and would be susceptible.

“Coolangatta isn’t the only airport to have increased seizures in 2016. We seized 273,000 items of biosecurity concern across Australia’s international airports in 2016, up by more than 6 per cent from 2015.

“The onus is on people to do the right thing—think about what is being packed and if unsure, check agriculture.gov.au​, fill out the Incoming Passenger Cards correctly, declare everything honestly and leave plane food on the plane, including fruit.

“And remember, biosecurity officers actively target deliberate concealment and non-compliance with Australia’s biosecurity laws using the best science, analysis and intelligence.”

For more information on what can and can’t be brought to Australia visit agriculture.gov.au/travelling.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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