Biosecurity Matters, Issue 1, 2016

​​​​​​​​​Biosecurity Matters

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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Welcome to Biosecurity Matters

Image of Lyn O'Connell 

Welcome to Biosecurity Matters, our online biosecurity magazine (previously Biosecurity Bulletin).

We’re starting 2016 with a fresh new look as part of the department’s implementation of the new Biosecurity Act which will come into force on 16 June this year.

Biosecurity matters to us all. It is essential that we proactively protect our agricultural sector from pests and diseases that can seriously affect our economy.

Continue reading the message from the Deputy Secretary

To do this, we’re telling the stories of how our biosecurity systems are working at home and abroad.

We’ll also:

  • Bring you the inside story of how the biggest change in quarantine law and enforcement since Australia’s Federation in 1901 is occurring when the Biosecurity Act comes into force on 16 June 2016.
  • Provide updates on how our new online systems are helping importers and exporters move goods into and out of Australia more easily and efficiently.
  • Continue highlighting some of the more unusual items and risks found by our dedicated biosecurity officers at airports and docks inside luggage, parcels, freight containers, ships and aircraft.

We’re interested in your stories, ideas and feedback on how we can continue to make Biosecurity Matters engaging, informative and integral to helping you be our partners in managing Australia’s biosecurity. You can do this by contacting our editorial team at 02 6272 4568 or email Biosecurity Matters.

Lyn O’Connell
Deputy Secretary, Biosecurity

Help us determine "first points of entry" into Australia

Port with aeroplane flying over. Have your say in helping us determine Australia's "first points of entry".

Now is the time to have your say about what is required for ports and landing places to be deemed a 'first point of entry' into Australia.

The First Points of Entry draft regulation was released for consultation on 8 January 2016. It will remain open for a minimum of 60 days.

This regulation also establishes biosecurity release zones to reduce regulation at international mail centres and passenger terminals. 

It is one of the many regulations that will sit under the Biosecurity Act 2015, which will replace the current Quarantine Act 1908 when it comes into effect on 16 June 2016.

The First Points of Entry regulation may impact international port and airport operators, airlines, shipping lines, as well as clients and importers.

Continue reading about "first points of entry" into Australia

To make a submission, visit the department’s website​, where you can access a series of factsheets on the new regulation and related material, including information on:

  • when goods brought into Australian territory are released from biosecurity control
  • requirements that must be met before determining a landing place to be a First Point of Entry
  • circumstances for variation and revocation of First Point of Entry determinations in relation to landing places
  • requirements that must be met before determining a port to be a First Point of Entry
  • circumstances for variation and revocation of First Point of Entry determinations in relation to ports.

Submissions can be made at the Biosecurity Act 2015 making a submission webpage.

BICON cutting red tape for importers

Pic of farmer using BICON on a computer Importers have welcomed BICON, the new online system for import conditions and permits.
Almost 4000 importers are now using the new Biosecurity Import Conditions (BICON) online system to make it easier to import items into Australia, while still safeguarding our country’s biosecurity.

When it was launched in November, the BICON online system attracted 80 000 hits a day from importers and customs brokers keen to see the new system in action.

Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia (CBFCA) Chair John Chambers, who has been involved in BICON’s development since its early stages, said industry welcomed the new system.

“BICON has been a long time in the making, however the wait was well worth it,” said Mr Chambers.

“The system is an essential tool that allows industry to obtain specific import conditions for a particular commodity and import pathways.

“The ability to search by use of the tariff classification and scientific names provide powerful tools for customs brokers and importers.”

BICON replaces the department’s previous suite of import conditions and permit management systems including ICON, permits and lodgement.

By registering with BICON, importers are now able to:

  • stay informed about changes to import conditions
  • create and submit import permit applications
  • track the status of their import permits
  • search by keyword, scientific name or tariff
  • view correspondence and respond to requests for further information
  • manage issued permits and request variations
  • add exporter, manufacturer and importer contact details
  • pay for permit applications online.

Registering a BICON user account can be done by visiting the department’s website and is a simple process.

The Import Services Team (IST) has been established to address client enquiries about import conditions and permits.

For assistance, contact the IST on 1800 900 090 (or +61 3 8318 6700 from outside Australia) and follow the prompts to import conditions and import permits, or email the IST directly at Imports.

How does Australia rate for animal health?

Tagged cow A tick for Australia’s animal health system could give us a competitive trade advantage.
An independent evaluation of our animal health system – due to be released shortly – could boost Australia’s standing with our trading partners.

The final assessment from the team who visited Australia late last year to conduct our World Organisation for Animal Health Performance of Veterinary Services (OIE PVS) evaluation is expected in the first half of 2016.

Dr Mark Schipp, Australian Chief Veterinary Officer, said a PVS report with favourable findings could be a competitive advantage.

“Our sanitary status underpins our access to high value export markets which are so economically important to Australia,” Dr Schipp said.

“From preliminary feedback, Australia has performed to a very high level.  This should prove valuable in enhancing our already strong sanitary reputation as a safe trading partner and exporter of high quality animals and animal products.”

Australia is the first highly developed country to invite evaluation by the OIE PVS, which is available to all OIE member countries.

Since its inception in 2007, more than 130 countries have been independently evaluated by the OIE. This includes some of Australia’s major trading partners and competitors.

The peer-reviewed OIE PVS evaluation report will be provided to Dr Schipp and his state and territory counterparts.

Australia will benefit from the transparency of having an independent assessment of our animal health and animal product food safety systems. It will also be of great use to identify areas that could benefit from investment to further improve the system, according to Dr Schipp.

Border Finds - Airport officers block a barrage of biosecurity threats

A Tiger claw This tiger claw was seized by biosecurity officers from a traveller at the Gold Coast Airport in 2015.
Tiger claws, racoon urine and a barbequed primate were some of last year’s more weird and wacky finds at our international airports, where biosecurity officers confiscated more than 250 000 items.

Fruit, vegetables and meat were the most commonly seized products across all airports – preventing Australia from succumbing to threats like fruit fly or foot-and-mouth disease.
Among the more unusual finds were snake meat for human consumption from Vietnam, giant African snail meat from Nigeria and alligator pet food from Hong Kong.

Sydney biosecurity officers had to be on the lookout for contaminated goods like footwear and packaging, with more than 12 000 items that didn’t make it through our stringent checks. Footwear needs to be clean of contaminants that travellers may have collected during activities like hiking.

Of high concern to Australia’s environment are live animals. Brisbane biosecurity officers found 51 fish, insects, birds and reptiles that travellers unsuccessfully tried to smuggle in.

Therapeutic goods were another high-risk category, with more than 8 000 items seized. In one case in Perth, a declarant from Morocco told the biosecurity officer that his particular “medicine” was made from banana leaf, animal fat, animal dung and other unknown ingredients.

Plant products are of particular concern, with a high possibility of introducing plant pests that could cause major damage to our agricultural markets. Our biosecurity officers made sure they tracked these high-risk items with almost 50 000 seizures of seeds, live plant material and other plant products. 

Failure to declare any biosecurity risk items can result in an on-the-spot fine up to $360, or prosecution and a fine up to $108 000 with 10 years’ jail time. If in doubt, check the department’s website for items that can be brought in or mailed to Australia.

See the latest Import industry advice notices or Export industry and market access notices.
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Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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