Program 2.1: Quarantine and export services

​​Program objectives

The objectives of this program are to support access to overseas markets and protect the economy and the environment from the impacts of unwanted pests and diseases through the safe movement to and from Australia of animals, plants and their products, including genetic material, people and cargo.

The focus for 2011–2012 was to:

  • strengthen Australia's biosecurity system across the continuum​
  • deliver effective biosecurity services
  • develop closer partnerships to deliver better biosecurity outcomes.

Review of performance

This review addresses the deliverables identified in the 2011–12 P​ortfolio Budget Statements. Table 19 summarises the extent to which we have met key performance indicators.

During 2011–12, we continued to reform the way in which we deliver biosecurity services, to direct resources to the risks that matter most.

Strengthening Australia's biosecurity system

Reforming biosecurity

We are implementing reforms to Australia's biosecurity system to continue to deliver a modern system that is responsive and targeted in a changing global trading environment.

The reforms being undertaken position the department to meet increasing demand and ensure the biosecurity system is effective and sustainable into the future. The reform program is underpinned by five key principles:

  • implementing a risk-based approach to biosecurity management
  • managing biosecurity risk across the continuum—offshore, at the border, and onshore
  • strengthening partnerships with stakeholders
  • being intelligence-led and evidence-based
  • being supported by modern legislation, technology, funding and business systems.

Case study

Detector dogs have their day

The old saying, 'every dog has its day' was never more true than when the department's biosecurity detector dogs were presented with new coats in March 2012, to mark the 20th anniversary of their operations. Detector dog handler Julian Sault was on hand with his dog Falcor, at the launch of the new Biosecurity dog coats at Melbourne Airport.

The highly trained dogs play a key role in the detection of contraband food, animals and plant material. Using their powerful sense of smell, they have identified tens of thousands of items that could have put Australia's agriculture industry and unique environment at risk. The first two detector dogs started work in February 1992. Today, the department has more than 80 dogs deployed at airports, seaports, mail centres and courier depots around Australia.

Historically, DAFF has used passive response detector dogs, trained to sit in response to suspect items, to screen passengers and their baggage at air and sea terminals. Active response dogs, trained to 'dig' in response to the scent of contraband items, were used to screen packages and cargo at mail centres and private courier depots.

In 2011, the department introduced multipurpose detector dogs, trained to screen passengers, their baggage, mail and cargo in a variety of environments. This expanded ability helps increases the flexibility and mobility that detector dogs provide. As Australia's biosecurity system changes to ensure it can meet current and future challenges and a growing demand on resources, detector dogs will be used increasingly to target high risk passengers, cargo and mail.

A labrador detector dog standing at the airport, wearing the new Biosecurity coat.
Detector dog Falcor shows off his new coat
Photo: DAFF.

We are moving to a risk-based approach to biosecurity operations, in which resources are allocated according to biosecurity risk levels. Implementation of a risk-based approach is a central component of the reform program. It is allowing the department to focus effort and resources on the highest biosecurity risks, while maintaining assurance on lower risk items and pathways.

Many benefits to industry and government have already been realised. Initial moves to a risk-based approach have resulted in productivity gains for industry. Export reforms have delivered more efficient export certification and inspection services and reduced regulatory costs. For imports, targeted external container inspections, faster vessel clearances, paperless processing of air cargo and reduced inspection of compliant commodities are also delivering efficiencies. Risk-based operations have reduced the administrative burden on compliant clients, enabling faster clearance at the border through better targeting and a focus on higher risk commodities and stakeholder behaviours.

Governance arrangements

In 2011–12, we announced the progressive retirement of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) brand. This follows the Australian Government's decision in the 2011–12 Budget to retain biosecurity management within the department. AQIS was used to describe border quarantine operations and no longer reflects the way biosecurity is managed across the continuum—that is, addressing pest and disease risk offshore (before they reach Australia), through quarantine activities at the border and onshore (within Australia).

Legislative change

Work continues on drafting biosecurity legislation to replace the century-old Quarantine Act 1908, with the exposure draft of the new legislation released for public comment in early July 2012. The new legislation aims to make Australia's biosecurity regime more responsive and streamlined. The draft legislation aims to enable better management of the risks of animal and plant pests and diseases entering, establishing, spreading and potentially causing harm to people, the environment and the economy. Like the Quarantine Act, the new Biosecurity Bill will be co-administered with the Minister for Health and the Department of Health and Ageing. Substantial progress was also made on the supporting legislative instruments.

New legislation was developed to support the Export Certification Reform Implementation, which delivered more efficient export certification and inspection services for the fish, egg, dairy, plant, grain, horticulture and meat industries. We also worked with Food Standards Australia New Zealand and the New Zealand Food Safety Authority to reduce unnecessary regulatory intervention for foods traded between Australia and New Zealand, while continuing to protect public health and safety.

The department also reduced the administrative burden on imports of low risk products. The Quarantine Proclamation has been amended to exempt low quarantine risk products from requiring an import permit.

Balancing risk and return

During 2011–12, we worked closely with the Australian Centre of Excellence for Risk Analysis (ACERA) to develop improved risk analysis techniques, surveillance and intelligence scanning capability, with the aim of building on our work towards a risk-based approach to biosecurity. The work program comprised projects closely aligned with key areas of the department's biosecurity priorities, including risk-return methods, consequence assessment, intelligence gathering, surveillance techniques and pathway analysis. ACERA created sophisticated probability tools that enable a quantification of risk for decision making.

These tools are now used to allocate resources for future inspections for vessel management, which has already resulted in significant reductions in inspection rates. ACERA also developed a 'software crawler' that searches the internet for information important to biosecurity risk management. An early version of the system identified the risk of spread of a virus in farmed oysters in Europe and signalled the probability of its migration to Australia, prompting the development of risk management strategies for Australian farmed oysters.

Analysing and assessing import risk

Risk analysis plays an important part in Australia's biosecurity protection. It helps the government to consider the level of biosecurity risk that may be associated with the importation or proposed importation of animals, plants and their products. If the risks are found to exceed the level acceptable to Australia, known as the Appropriate Level of Protection, risk management measures are proposed to reduce risks to an acceptable level.

Risk analyses can take several forms. For regulated risk analyses, there is a specified timeframe for completion of an assessment and a number of required actions, including public consultation and a formal appeal process. Import risk analyses are conducted by technical and scientific experts in the relevant fields. During the year, a number of regulated risk analyses were in progress, including freshwater ornamental finfish, fresh ginger from Fiji and island cabbage from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Assessing risk may also take the form of a non-regulated analysis of existing import policy. During 2011–12, we completed a number of non-regulated risk analyses, including mangoes from Pakistan, apples from New Zealand, zoo perissodactyls (including zebras, rhinoceroses and tapirs) and hazelnuts from Chile. We also made significant progress on a number of regulated and non-regulated risk analyses, including queen bees, veterinary vaccines, table grapes from India and potatoes for processing from New Zealand. (See Appendix 9 for the status of regulated and non-regulated import risk assessments.)

Case study

A calculated risk

Introducing compliance-based inspection regimes that reward compliant importers and allow DAFF biosecurity officers to focus their efforts on potentially non-compliant, high risk imports is the aim of an exciting pilot project.

A risk-return study, undertaken with the Australian Centre of Excellence in Risk Analysis, developed statistical tools to identify low risk commodities, suitable for reduced inspection regimes, and to target higher risk items. We used the methodology to review the import compliance of selected plant commodities and clearly demonstrated that the current 100 per cent consignment inspection rate was not commensurate with the low risk of quarantine failure, or the very high rates of compliance with import conditions by the majority of suppliers.

A trial started in February 2012, to test a semi-automated system that evaluates past quarantine compliance to allow compliant suppliers a reduced rate of inspection. The trial used imported green coffee beans entering Victoria as its testing platform. Any supplier that had failed an inspection of one of their last 10 shipments was not eligible for a reduced inspection rate.

The three-month trial successfully demonstrated that compliance-based inspection regimes can be used successfully for imported plant products. DAFF will now expand the trial to other historically 'clean' plant imports and compliant suppliers, while still providing confidence that less experienced suppliers will be monitored appropriately. This trial is one of the many practical ways that DAFF is reforming its approach to biosecurity to focus operational resources on potentially major biosecurity threats.

A flowchart showing the process from product to inspection for the importation of goods
An example of the methodology used to evaluate past quarantine compliance for a commodity
Image courtesy of the Australian Centre of Excellence in Risk Analysis.

Risks relating to individual import permit applications are also assessed. Applications are assessed against legislation and policies and may take the form of documentary review or audit. Risks are further managed by applying conditions to granted import permits that are based on legislation, policies and expert advice.

We constantly review import policies to take account of changes in disease status around the world. In 2011–12, we revised import conditions for, among other things:

  • ruminant genetic material from Europe
  • cherries, table grapes and citrus from the United States
  • mangoes from the Philippines
  • nursery stock imports, to address a range of disease risks
  • tomato seed imports, to better manage the risk of various viruses.

The department also announced amended import requirements for aquarium fish.

We progressed numerous reviews of plant and timber products to reduce intervention on low risk commodities. Improvements include removing the need for an import permit for some highly processed products and some low risk products where manufacturing processes address the biosecurity risk. As part of a review into import pathways for medium nursery stock, the department no longer requires 100 per cent inspection of all plants at the border. The new risk-based sampling regime will be phased in during 2012–13.

Delivering effective biosecurity services

Elements of the past approach to biosecurity have been underscored by mandatory border intervention targets, giving little regard to the differing level of risk posed by different passengers, goods or incursions; or at which point along the continuum (offshore, at the border and onshore) intervention is most effective. The past approach was largely reliant on direct intervention by departmental inspectorate staff.

Biosecurity risks are increasing, due to growing numbers of vessels, passengers and goods from higher risk origins and risks arising from climate change, which is changing the preferential temperature and moisture environments for sustaining pests and diseases. There is a need to continue to manage incursions and escalating demand from international trading partners for greater levels of assurance in relation to Australia's pest and disease status for exports.

Managing import risks offshore

Biosecurity risks are often best managed before they arrive in Australia. We apply a range of measures to manage risks offshore. During 2011–12, we:

  • implemented emergency measures for imports of tomato seeds from all countries to manage the risk of various viroids not currently in Australia
  • undertook a range of audits and verifications in other countries to manage the import risk offshore
  • amended health certification requirements for cattle, sheep and goat semen and embryos from the European Union and cattle semen and embryos from Norway and Switzerland, to manage the risk of Schmallenberg virus, which has caused abortions and birth deformities in cattle, sheep and goats in Europe
  • drafted a multilateral agreement for managing treatments for incoming cargo following the success of the Australian Fumigation Accreditation Scheme overseas. The multilateral agreement will help harmonise cargo treatments and include multiple treatment options. It will provide international quarantine regulatory authorities with a forum to discuss biosecurity issues and initiatives not covered by relevant international standards.

Case study

Love's labours keep staff busy

Valentine's Day is the busiest day of the year for florists in Australia. This means that our biosecurity officers are very busy with the inspection and clearance of imported cut flowers in the weeks leading up to 14 February.

In 2012, flowers came from India, Columbia, Kenya, China, South Africa, Ecuador, Mauritius, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. While 80 per cent of imports were roses, imports also included carnations, chrysanthemums, orchids, anthodiums, eustomias, lisianthus, gypsophilia and alstroemeria.

In the Central East Region, more than 167 000 kilograms of fresh flowers were processed in the week leading up to Valentine's Day. Many staff worked long hours to process the huge volume of flowers. On one day alone 2 858 cartons of flowers with a total weight of 23 470 kg were inspected. Plant pathologists were also kept busy, with 25 plant referrals in the week before the big day, with the most common referral due to symptoms of possible fungal diseases.

Increased liaison with industry and internal stakeholders ensured that the inspection and clearance processes went smoothly. The Operational Science Program supported this process by providing expedited pest and disease identification results and enhanced photographs of commonly detected and permitted Oxalis seed to biosecurity staff. These photographs were then referred to the South Australian Department of Primary Industries and Resources seed testing laboratory for quick identification.

The turnaround time has been improved from up to four days to just a few hours, reducing the need for reconditioning treatment, effectively making the process less costly in time and money for importers. Reconditioning treatment involves the removal of all packaging followed by fibrillation over a collection bin.

A man and a woman inspecting imported cut flowers.
A DAFF officer inspects fresh cut roses in time for Valentine's Day
Photo: DAFF.

Managing imports at the border

Each year, DAFF intercepts tens of thousands of pests and hundreds of kilograms of non-permitted food, live animals and animal and plant products at the border. Table 17 provides an indication of the size and scope of biosecurity activity at the border. These figures highlight the increase in volumes of international air and sea passenger clearances, import permit applications and international mail articles.

Table 17 Size of the import task
Item2011–12 a2010–112009-10
International passenger clearances15 443 51114 684 81913 700 000 b
Seizures of items from air passengers381 178473 228481 767
Sea passenger and crew clearances851 593745 850 c530 233 c
Seizures of items from sea passengers8 2259 0077 702
International mail articles (total volume)164 750 161152 280 041139 700 000 b
Seizures of mail items67 631108 130115 574
Airports where we have staff888
International mail facilities where we have staff444
Import permit applications received20 87322 30321 109
Import permits issued19 71519 05418 047
Shipping pratique visits—first ports15 700 b14 300 b14 300 b
Country Action List sea container inspections (first port)53 78545 800 b41 600 b
Air freight consignments assessed d826 151
786 768
595 547
Sea freight consignments assessed d360 085348 654345 622
Live animal imports processed at government post entry quarantine facilitiescats 2 015
dogs 3 798
horses 409
avians 567
cats 2 059
dogs 3 624
horses 511
avians 156
cats 1 783
dogs 3 569
horses 304
avians 593
other animals 9
Hatching eggs processed at government post entry quarantine facilities27 12028 90036 540

a Figures at 1 July 2012. b Rounded to the nearest thousand. c Sea passenger numbers for these years have been revised following a data cleansing exercise. d Referred to DAFF electronic systems and assessed manually or electronically.

Approximately 15 000 vessels enter Australia from overseas each year. Since 1 July 2011, eligible vessels that have a good biosecurity compliance record and pose a low biosecurity risk now undergo fewer inspections. Improvements to our systems during the year now enable the vessel master to apply electronically, up to 20 days in advance, for permission to arrive at a non-proclaimed port, which may not have suitable facilities or infrastructure to meet biosecurity requirements.

During 2011–12, we strengthened our air cargo surveillance activities at international airports and quarantine-approved premises that handle imported air cargo. The department introduced a new nationally consistent approach to monitoring imported goods at quarantine-approved premises, airport wharves and port precincts where surveillance is currently performed. This monitoring was expanded to the wider import community, including at importers' premises and rural delivery locations.

The information gathered through these initiatives will assist us to target our efforts to the areas of greatest biosecurity risk. Biosecurity officers are also undertaking air cargo surveillance activities at international airports, including random inspections of baggage and cargo containers for biosecurity risk materials and monitoring airside premises for biosecurity risks such as honey bee nests, unsecured biosecurity material and unreported animal transport equipment.

In early 2012, the department consolidated five regional import management systems into one central database. The consolidation has provided greater stability to the operating system, which makes updates easier and faster across Australia, resulting in significant time savings. We also consolidated processing for electronic self-assessed cargo clearances to a central processing area, which has provided considerable time savings to both DAFF and industry clients.

During 2011–12, we further developed the Australian Government's requirements for the future post entry quarantine facilities. We also conducted extensive work to repair infrastructure and update equipment to ensure our current facilities continue to meet biosecurity requirements until the end of their leases. Work is well advanced on the design of a quarantine facility that will consolidate the five existing sites into one state-of-the-art facility. In May 2012, the minister announced the acquisition of a site in Victoria for the construction of a post entry quarantine facility to meet Australia's future requirements. Funding was also announced in the 2012–13 Budget for the construction of this new facility.

Managing exports at the border

We continued to provide specialised export inspection, auditing and verification services to industries to ensure that Australian exports met importing country requirements.

During 2011–12, we implemented a suite of reforms to deliver more efficient export certification and inspection services.

The Australian Export Meat Inspection System (AEMIS) cuts red tape, supports regional jobs and improves Australia's export meat industry. AEMIS allows businesses greater flexibility in how staff are deployed when not undertaking export inspection work. The system aims to reward good performance and focus regulatory resources on high risk areas.

A new service delivery model for the export fish industry will enable establishments to engage approved auditors to carry out regulatory audits of registered establishments that are engaged in the preparation, storage and loading of seafood for export.

DAFF and state regulatory authorities also reviewed arrangements to minimise the duplication of regulatory food safety audits across a range of commodities, including fish and dairy, to meet both domestic and export requirements.

In September 2011, revised legislation was introduced for the grain and horticulture export industries. The revised orders allow industry to independently hire specially trained individuals to manage and perform export inspection functions. This provides industry with greater flexibility over the timing and location of inspections.

Case study

On the watch for stowaway beetles

Cruise ships from New Zealand may be carrying more than just passengers and crew to our shores during the summer months. The burnt pine longicorn (BPL) beetle was accidently introduced to New Zealand in the mid-1950s and has since spread through most of the country. Although Australia is currently free of the pest, it does pose a quarantine problem as the beetles can fly at least three kilometres and adult beetles can survive the typical voyage time from New Zealand to Australia.

The BPL is native to northern Europe and Asia, where it infests pine, Norway spruce and occasionally Douglas fir and larch. It attacks logs, stumps and standing, dead or damaged trees but is best known for infesting scorched trees within a short period after forest fires. Larvae bore through timber and cause the rapid deterioration of logs. BPL has the potential to be an important pest in Australia, given the frequency of bush fires in our environment.

BPL adults are most active from dusk to midnight. They are strongly attracted to light and can be attracted to the lights at port facilities and on ships, especially brightly lit cruise ships that often leave port in the evening when the beetles are flying.

To reduce this risk, DAFF has developed a model to predict the likely presence of BPL on ships from New Zealand. Risk ports have been identified by their climatic conditions and occur from Christchurch to Nelson on the north-east of the South Island and all ports in the North Island. Within the flight season, vessels are risk rated on the ports they visit, as well as on arrival and departure times from ports and transit times to Australia. This data is applied to a model to risk rank each voyage. A trial focusing on higher risk ships reduced the number of vessels requiring inspection on arrival in Australia from 42 to 16; BPL was found on only three of them.

A longicorn beetle specimen.
Unwanted passenger: the burnt pine longicorn beetle (Arhopalus ferus)
Photo courtesy of Ross Pickard, Operational Science Program, DAFF.

Table 18 Size of the export task
Export certificates for grains and horticulture produce51 57542 598
Meat export certificates issued a124 114
Cat exports3 1393 150
Dog exports6 9988 515
Live cattle exports696 097789 342
Live sheep exports2 662 4312 817 089
Live goat exports62 16464 576
Eggs a258
Wool a11 174
Fish a28 285
Meat a122 342
Dairy a32 681
Skins a8 378
Inedible meat a3 611

a The data for 2011–12 reflects a change in reporting categories from previous years.

Empty vessel surveys can be conducted away from the loading berth, providing significant cost benefits and savings to industry, and clients can move inspection points up the secure supply chain, resulting in less reliance on end-point inspections.

Significant progress has been made on the implementation of a new regulatory regime for the export of live animals. The new Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System requires exporters to provide evidence of compliance with internationally agreed welfare standards and demonstrate control and traceability of the animals through the supply chain. Exporters must also meet reporting and accountability requirements and submit to independent auditing of the supply chain (see Program 1.10).

The way in which exporters can obtain market access information has been improved through the further implementation of the department's Manual of Importing Country Requirements (MICoR). MICoR stores and reports on the requirements of importing countries for all commodities. During the year, we successfully migrated export conditions for fish, dairy, plant, eggs and live animals to MICoR. Export conditions for meat products were migrated in early 2011.

Case study

The new face of plant export inspection and certification

Hundreds of people are leading the way for Australia's plant export industry and completing training to inspect or certify plant products for export. Export certification reform for both the grains and horticulture industries has opened the way for industry members across Australia to become accredited as Authorised Officers (AOs). DAFF has run several training and assessment programs in various locations around Australia and these have attracted strong industry representation.

AOs are authorised for certain regulatory functions under the Export Control Act 1982 and will ensure that the plant products meet Australia's export requirements as well as those of our overseas trading partners. A national training framework provides a consistent set of competency standards and training materials organised around job functions. It includes self-paced e-learning, on-the-job training, competency standards and assessment tools to ensure that all AOs have the skills, knowledge and right approach for their job functions. AOs are regarded as Australian Government officials and will be subject to rigorous verification and audit procedures to ensure that the integrity and reputation of Australia's export industry is maintained.

A number of DAFF officers were selected to be engaged and trained as plant export assessing officers. The role is critical to the assessment of new authorised officers and is delivered as outlined in the national training framework. These officers have been trained by a Registered Training Organisation.

This approach marks a shift away from the current service delivery model where departmental officers often travel vast distances across Australia to conduct inspections. Once accredited, AOs may conduct inspections at a time that suits their business needs. This can reduce time delays and inspection fees for industry, but ensures industry complies with Australian export certification requirements.

A man inspecting a shipping container.
Authorised officer Wayne Perry carries out an inspection
Photo: DAFF.

National Residue Survey

The National Residue Survey (NRS) monitors residues of agvet chemicals and environmental contaminants in Australian food commodities. This monitoring is largely industry funded through levies on the animal and plant commodities that are tested. During 2011–12, NRS finalised arrangements with Citrus Australia Limited for a 'market access' monitoring program focused on facilitating citrus exports to Japan. The program covered consignments of export citrus from six key marketers.

NRS is also accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities as a proficiency test provider and continued to provide proficiency testing services to the dairy industry's Australian Milk Residue Survey. NRS completed its triennial laboratory tender process during the year and commenced more than 20 new analytical contracts. It also implemented its redeveloped database and associated information management system, which replaced paper-based sample collection and analysis processes with a web-based interactive system.

NRS was disestablished as a business operation under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 during the year and is no longer required to have a set of financial statements prepared in accordance with the Finance Minister's Orders. Appendix 12 provides the annual report for NRS and includes key financial information in accordance with the National Residue Survey Administration Act 1992.

Improving market access for Australian exporters

DAFF continued to reduce technical barriers to trade and made significant gains with key trading partners. During the year, we negotiated new or improved market access, maintained existing trade and developed certification for a range of commodities and markets through market access negotiations and the provision of supporting technical submissions. A full list of achievements can be found in Appendix 10. Some highlights include:

  • negotiating new or revised protocols for export of ruminant genetic material with a number of countries, including Mongolia, China and Canada
  • exporting to Malaysia the first consignment of ornamental aquatic animals under new negotiated protocols
  • gaining market access for the export of live abalone and eel to Taiwan and honey to Egypt
  • restoring market access for avian products to a number of markets, including Vietnam, Hong Kong and the Philippines which had restricted imports following the detection of low pathogenicity notifiable avian influenza in Victoria
  • implementing a revised microbiological testing program for meat export establishments in order to meet new requirements introduced by the United States for the control of specific strains of E. coli in beef intended for grinding
  • restoring market access for lentils to Saudi Arabia under revised export protocols after a longstanding ban.

Ensuring compliance and integrity

During 2011–12, we introduced the first Biosecurity Compliance Strategy to provide guidance to stakeholders, the general community and biosecurity staff on how DAFF manages compliance with, and enforcement of, biosecurity legislation. The strategy aligns with key principles of the Heads of Commonwealth Operational Law Enforcement Agencies, which require agencies to have a compliance strategy and encourage compliance with agency laws. As part of the department's compliance operations, targeted biosecurity inspections identified a range of imported goods that breached Australia's strict import requirements. Seizures that resulted in successful prosecutions included the illegal importation of a range of plants and plant products, salmon, ornamental fish, other fish and dairy products and European fire ants.

In April 2012, the Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Justice announced that DAFF's biosecurity operations would be overseen by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI). The aim of ACLEI is to detect, disrupt and deter potential corruption in federal law enforcement agencies. The implementation of ACLEI oversight is expected to occur in 2013.

Working in partnership with Customs

Australia's borders are not impenetrable. DAFF, in partnership with government agencies, industry and the community, manages biosecurity services to minimise the risk of exotic pests and diseases entering and establishing in Australia and harming the natural environment, our food security and economy.

During 2011–12, we continued to work in close partnership with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS). Following the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between DAFF and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service in July 2011, we finalised a number of annexes to the MoU.

These address shared approaches to common business areas, including arrangements for air and sea cargo operations, information sharing and international mail and maritime working environments. The MoU and annexes are available on the DAFF website.

The DAFF–ACBPS Strategic Working Group, established in 2010, continues to strengthen the strategic relationship between the two agencies in areas of common interest. During 2011–12, the working group oversaw joint initiatives to enhance the efficient use of resources at international mail centres and other operational environments.

Biosecurity awards

The 2012 Australian Biosecurity Awards recognised individuals, companies and groups who made a significant contribution to maintaining Australia's biosecurity integrity:

  • Nolan Meats is a keen promoter of the concept of shared responsibility for quality export production and has been at the forefront of meat inspection reform for a number of years. Nolan Meats was recognised for its contribution to the development of the quality assurance model for the new Australian Export Inspection System (see Case study)
  • Shipping Australia, ANL, Qube Logistics, DP World, FP Marine Risks and Sydney Ports were recognised for their collaboration in returning a consignment of contaminated soil to China
  • Schlumberger Oilfield Australia received a biosecurity award for its identification and notification to DAFF of red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) in a consignment of new mining machinery
  • Volkswagen Group Australia was recognised for its work to mitigate a significant biosecurity risk when a shipment of vehicles was contaminated with the moth Hylesia nigricans, also known as hairy cat moth.

The late Mr Peter Kenny was awarded the Lifetime Biosecurity Achievement Award for his contribution to biosecurity and agriculture in Australia. Mr Kenny was recognised for his service on numerous industry and government committees and boards and for his demonstrated commitment to primary industries and improving the future of Australia's biosecurity management.

Case study

Managing the boom—biosecurity risks in the resources and energy sector

The resources and energy sector in Australia is booming. At the end of April 2012, more than 98 major resource projects were at an advanced stage of development with estimated capital expenditure of $260.8 billion[1]. New capital expenditure in the mining industry totalled $52 billion in 2010–11 and Australian Bureau of Statistics data indicate capital expenditure in the mining sector in 2011–12 may be greater than $80 billion[2]. Clearly, many benefits will flow to Australia and Australians but the boom also presents a large biosecurity challenge for both industry and DAFF.

The sector relies on the importation of specialised equipment, which includes pre-assembled modules, built for resource production and assembly on-site, standing up to six storeys high. If not correctly managed for biosecurity risks at their country of origin, this equipment can harbour damaging pests and diseases. The remediation of such contamination can add significant delay and cost to multi-million dollar projects and contracts.

DAFF has developed guidance material to help the resources and energy sector manage its responsibilities and to help keep biosecurity risks away from Australia. This material, including Biosecurity Management Plans, helps managers of major resource projects consider and deal with biosecurity risks along the entire supply chain, from construction overseas to installation of the large and often complex equipment in Australia.

The DAFF Guide to Major Resource and Energy Industry website provides a consolidated source of information that has been successfully trialled by a number of industry project partners. For more information, visit: .

[1] Mining Industry Major Projects, October 2011, Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics

[2] ABS Cat No. 5625.0 Private New Capital Expenditure and Expected Expenditure, Australia, December 2011, Australian Bureau of Statistics

A large cargo ship moving along the ocean.
A vessel transporting pre-assembled modules, demonstrating the magnitude of equipment associated with the resources sector
Photo courtesy of INPEX.

Key performance indicators

Table 19 Program 2.1: Quarantine and export services—key performance indicators
Key performance indicator2011–12 targetAchievement
Implementation of risk-based initiatives for sea cargo, air cargo, vessels, international passengers and mailImplement, monitor and review risk-based intervention and operational profiling arrangementsMetMet
Performance: The department continues to implement risk-based initiatives to monitor goods, vessels, passengers and mail.
Drafting and implementation of new biosecurity legislation in line with requirementsDevelopment and implementation of a supporting training packagePartially met
Performance: We expected to release an exposure draft of the legislation for public comment in early 2012–13. It is anticipated that the legislation will be introduced into parliament in the second half of 2012 and will commence 12 months after royal assent. The development of the supporting legislation and training material is progressing.
This is a new indicator.
Develop initiatives to enable reform of Australia's biosecurity ICT systemsSuccessful completion of ICT second pass business case in line with government requirements by December 2012MetMet
Performance: We completed an ICT second pass business case in support of biosecurity reform initiatives, as required.
Work closely with industry to bed down reformsEngage and partner with stakeholders to improve reform outcomesMet
Performance: Work continues to strengthen our biosecurity system and DAFF is working closely with stakeholders to bed down reforms. This is a new indicator.
Revised arrangements for post entry quarantine facilities implementedImplementation of the government's requirements regarding post entry quarantine arrangements in alignment with agreed planMetMet
Performance: DAFF conducted extensive work at existing facilities to repair infrastructure and update equipment. Work is well advanced on the design of the new quarantine facility and a site has been acquired.
Markets lost as a consequence of failed Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) certification services0MetMetMet
Performance: No markets were lost as a result of DAFF certification.
Export consignments rejected because of certification issues0Met
Performance: No consignments were rejected by importing countries due to issues with DAFF certification. This is a new indicator.
Proportion of Import Risk Analyses conducted in accordance with biosecurity regulations and [the proportion of] appeals disallowed or found to be outside scope100%MetMet
Performance: Please see Appendix 9 for more information.
Number of expanded Import Risk Analyses supported by the Eminent Scientists Group100%N/AMet
Performance: No expanded import risks analyses requiring the support of the Eminent Scientists Group were completed in 2011–12.
Development of closer partnerships at the border to deliver better biosecurity outcomesDevelop, implement, monitor and review partnership arrangements at the borderMet
Performance: DAFF continued to work to develop closer partnerships at the border to deliver biosecurity outcomes. This is a new indicator.
Minister/parliamentary secretary and executive satisfied with the quality and timeliness of policy advice, scientific advice and supportHigh level of satisfaction achievedMet
Performance: DAFF provided policy advice and support to the minister and parliamentary secretary. This advice has been received with a high level of satisfaction.
This is a new indicator.

Outlook for 2012–13

We will continue to reform Australia's biosecurity system, undertaking significant stakeholder consultation on the new biosecurity legislation and commencing work on its implementation. We will continue to refine our approach to risk-based management and review arrangements to strengthen biosecurity funding. We will work towards developing electronic government-to-government certification and implementing a more efficient and effective import permit system. We will also finalise the detailed design for the new quarantine facility, allowing completion of required approval processes, and facilitate the appointment of project management and construction contractors.

The department will develop revised quarantine treatments to protect against the phasing out of currently used treatments, such as methyl bromide fumigation and dimethoate chemical sprays, in partnership with industry and state departments. We will finalise the review of the horse import risk analysis in line with recommendations from the Callinan Inquiry into the outbreak of equine influenza. We will complete our review of the cat and dog import policies and begin to implement the outcomes, ensuring that operational procedures align with the review outcomes. We will also prepare for the resumption of queen honey bee imports.

DAFF will work closely with export industry consultative committees to monitor the implementation of reform activities and seek additional opportunities for efficiency gains. The coming year is expected to be challenging for horticulture export industries. Countries in the Southeast Asian region are reassessing their quarantine systems and will increasingly require refined risk analyses to be completed before establishing new trades or continuing existing trades.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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