40-2017 – Reportable biosecurity incidents: biosecurity risk incidents and legal reporting requirements

​18 April 2017

Who does this notice affect?

This notice is relevant to all persons who have knowledge of, or come into contact with, goods subject to biosecurity control. This includes, but is not limited to, importers, brokers, biosecurity industry participants, cargo terminal operators, freight forwarders, masters of vessels and transport operators.

What has changed?

The Biosecurity Act 2015 (the Act) introduced the requirement for persons in charge of goods subject to biosecurity control, or an exposed goods order, to lodge a reportable biosecurity Incident (RBI) with the department in certain circumstances.

Note: Goods being actively managed under an exposed goods order are deemed to be subject to biosecurity control.

What this means for you

As the person in charge, if a biosecurity incident occurs, you must report it to the department.

Letting the department know as soon as you can will allow us to work with you to limit the risk associated with any pest or disease entering, establishing or spreading into Australian territory.

Failure to report an incident is a criminal offence and can attract a civil penalty under the Act.

When do I need to report?

The person in charge must report the following incidents relating to goods under biosecurity control when the goods or conveyances:

  • are infested with live pests (for example, insects, invertebrates or other animals)
  • have not been managed as directed by a biosecurity officer to deal with a biosecurity risk (for example, a fumigation not taking place or goods not being sent for destruction or export as directed)
  • have been destroyed and a biosecurity officer did not direct them to be destroyed
  • are not the same as they were described on the manifest
  • have a change in the intended end use of the goods that differs from the import conditions specified in BICON
  • are no longer secure because of damage to the container, conveyance or premises where they are held
  • have been lost or stolen
  • have been involved in an accident for example, truck roll over
  • have deviated from the movement of their intended direct route as directed from ‘a’ to ‘b'.

Note: For a full explanation of reportable biosecurity incidents please refer to sections 155-157 of the Biosecurity Act 2015 and sections 6-7 of the Biosecurity (Reportable Biosecurity Incidents) Determination 2016.

Who needs to report a biosecurity incident?

You need to report or lodge an RBI if you become aware of an event and you are the person in charge:

  • of goods subject to biosecurity control or an exposed goods order
  • of the aircraft, vessel or rail or road transport carrying goods subject to biosecurity control or an exposed goods order.

How to make a RBI report

A report can be made by calling 1800 798 636 or by completing the Reportable Biosecurity Incident online form.

The impact if an RBI is not reported

Biosecurity risk management responsibility: Please report the biosecurity incident as soon as you can.

If the department does not know about a change in the biosecurity status or condition of goods or conveyances, then it may not be able to accurately and appropriately assess and manage the biosecurity risk that may be present.

Infestations of pests and diseases pose a financial and environmental threat to Australia’s agricultural industry and our unique environment.

Legal responsibility: the Act requires you to report an RBI as soon as practicable after becoming aware of it.

Under the Act, you are legally required to report a biosecurity incident and failure to do so is a criminal offence and can attract a civil penalty under sections 155 or 156 of the Act.

Note that giving false or misleading information or documents is a criminal offence under sections 532 and 533 of the Act, and may make you liable to a civil penalty and is also a criminal offence under the Criminal Code.

Further information

To report a biosecurity incident, please call 1800 798 636 or use the online form.

Information on RBIs can be found on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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