High profile biosecurity case concludes
Ms Amber Heard appeared in Southport Magistrates Court today pleading guilty to breaching the Criminal Code Act 1995 after unlawfully bringing two dogs into Australia in April 2015.
Ms Heard has been placed on a one month good behaviour bond in the amount of $1000 for making a false declaration on her Incoming Passenger Card, saying she was not travelling with any live animals when she did, in fact, have two dogs in her luggage.
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ Deputy Secretary, Lyn O’Connell, said Australia had strict biosecurity requirements to manage the risk of exotic pests and diseases entering the country.
“Import conditions for dogs have been developed to protect Australia from a number of pests and diseases, including rabies, ehrlichia and leishmania,” Ms O’Connell said.
“Ms Heard’s actions put the health of our people, pets and native animals at risk.”
In addition to the ruling, Ms Heard and her husband, Johnny Depp, provided a video expressing remorse for her actions.
“The video provided by Ms Heard shows that she now understands that what she did was wrong and why. Her willingness to take responsibility for her actions—despite media commentary at the time—is good to see,” Ms O’Connell said.
“There are no exceptions to the rule; Australia applies its laws equally to all passengers arriving into the country.
“It is particularly disappointing and frustrating when we uncover such serious non-compliance.
“The onus is on travellers coming to Australia to do the right thing and fill out the Incoming Passenger Card truthfully—this is a legal document.
“As an island nation, Australia is free from many of the pests and diseases present in other parts of the world—and many of these pests and diseases could devastate our agricultural industries, economy and environment.
“That’s why our biosecurity system exists—to protect Australia’s plant and animal health, which underpins our $54 billion agricultural industries.
“We take our responsibilities to the Australian public seriously—and today’s court outcome shows we prosecute wrongdoers accordingly, no matter who they are.”
The two dogs arrived in Australia on 21 April 2015. The department was alerted to their presence on 13 May, following media attention after they visited a dog groomer on the Gold Coast.
A biosecurity officer verified their presence and gave Ms Heard and Mr Depp 72 hours to remove the dogs from the country, which was done on 15 May 2015 at their expense.
Australia’s rules are clear and everyone must follow them.
The department’s website has a number of online tools to assist anyone wanting to bring their pets to Australia, including a step-by-step guide and a calculator, which works backwards from the date of import to show you when each step needs to occur.
To find out about how to import pets to Australia, visit Bringing cats and dogs (and other pets) to Australia.
For details on what can and can’t be brought into Australia when visiting, visit Travelling or sending goods to Australia.
A copy of the video is available to media outlets, on request.