106-2018 - The Biosecurity Act 2015 – Use of infringement notices across all import pathways
3 September 2018
Who does this notice affect?
This notice affects importers, import industry participants, the airline and shipping industries and other people bringing goods into Australia. Goods includes cargo (commercial and non‑commercial), mail and personal effects (i.e. moveable property).
On 16 June 2016 the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Biosecurity Act) commenced introducing a framework of modern regulatory tools to manage compliance with biosecurity requirements. This includes infringement notices, enforceable undertakings, injunctions and civil penalties.
There are 52 infringement notices that can be issued by the department under the Biosecurity Act (see link below). Some of these can be used across the biosecurity continuum. Some are relevant at first points of entry including airports, seaports and international mail centres. Others can be used to manage biosecurity risks relating to vessels and aircraft.
Infringement notices provide an administrative tool for dealing with low‑level contraventions and offences, and an alternative to court resolution. The department may issue an infringement notice if there are reasonable grounds to believe an infringement notice provision has been contravened and if an infringement notice is considered to be the most appropriate sanction.
The amount payable under infringement notices varies. Generally the penalty amount is either 12 penalty units ($2,520) for an individual (natural person) or 60 penalty units ($12,600) for a body corporate (company). For infringement notices issued by biosecurity officers to passengers at international airports, the penalty amount is 2 penalty units ($420).
What has changed?
To facilitate a smooth transition to the Biosecurity Act, the department adopted a compliance posture allowing some concessions during a transition period. Where enforcement responses existed under the Quarantine Act 1908 equivalent to those in the new legislation, then the approach was to apply sanctions from commencement. This included infringement notices for airline passengers. Consistent with its compliance posture, the department is now moving to utilise infringement notices more broadly, including in relation to international cargo and mail.
The department intends to implement the use of infringement notices as a sanction for non‑passenger breaches of the Biosecurity Act on 8 September 2018. Infringement notices may be issued for contraventions that occurred prior to this date and after 8 September 2017, noting that an infringement notice must be issued within 12 months of the alleged contravention.
The department will continue to optimise voluntary compliance where possible. Where an alleged contravention causes or may cause serious biosecurity risk or harm, the department may consider commencing legal proceedings rather than issuing an infringement notice.
Further information on the Infringement Notice Scheme is available on the department’s website.