61-2017 - Increase to Commonwealth penalty unit value

​23 June 2017

Who does this notice affect?

The change affects passengers and crew travelling to Australia, senders and receivers of international mail and other persons who fail to comply with their obligations and commit offences under the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation.

The change will be reflected in infringement notices issued by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and court imposed fines.


Higher financial penalties will soon be in place for breaches of most Commonwealth laws.

Under most Commonwealth laws, financial penalties are expressed in terms of ‘penalty units’ instead of dollar figures. As an example, a maximum fine would generally be expressed as ‘10 penalty units’ as opposed to ‘$1800’.

On 1 July 2017, the value of a penalty unit will increase from $180 to $210.

This means that the maximum financial penalties for committing various Commonwealth offences will rise accordingly. This increase in the value of the penalty unit will ensure that financial penalties remain an effective punishment and deterrent to the commission of Commonwealth offences.

To ensure the real value of the penalty unit is maintained, the penalty unit will then be automatically increased according to inflation every three years, beginning from 1 July 2020.

The new penalty unit value will only apply to offences which are committed on or after 1 July 2017. This means that the changes will not impact on current proceedings or offences that were committed before this date. Any fines imposed for offences committed before 1 July 2017 will be based on the value of the penalty unit at the time the offence was committed.


Amendments to the Crimes Act 1914 under the Crimes Amendment (Penalty Unit) Act 2017, received Royal Assent on 19 May 2017 and will commence on 1 July 2017.

Further information

For further information please contact the Airports inbox.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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