Improving agricultural export legislation

Agriculture, fisheries and forestry exports are an economic powerhouse for Australia. Strengthening the competitiveness and productivity of Australia's agriculture sector is a key commitment of the Morrison McCormack Government.

Improved legislative framework

The Australian Government is improving Australia’s agricultural export legislation. This is one of the initiatives aimed at modernising the systems which support the export of Australian agricultural goods.

Australia’s agricultural export legislation underpins our reputation as a supplier of safe and reliable food and other products. It also assures our trading partners that Australian exports meet their requirements.

The Export Control Act 2020 forms the central pillar of the new legislative framework. The Act will be supported by a suite of legislative instruments, the Export Control Rules 2020, and the new legislation will commence shortly before 1 April 2021.

The new export legislation will consolidate and streamline existing export-related requirements. It will ensure:

  • exported goods meet the requirements of importing countries
  • government and relevant industry standards are complied with
  • goods are traceable throughout the export supply chain—from production and processing to exporting—where required
  • the integrity of goods, and the accuracy of applied trade descriptions and official marks, are maintained.

The improvements will make the legislation more relevant, responsive and efficient for exporters, farmers and other primary producers. It will still provide strong regulation while removing duplication and ensuring consistency across commodities where possible. It will also ensure that exported goods meet importing country requirements.

Export Control Rules 2020

The Export Control Rules2020 (the rules) outline the operational requirements agricultural exporters must meet to export specific commodities from Australia. They are based on the current orders and regulations for various commodities under the Export Control Act 1982 and Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997. This includes requirements on where and how products are prepared and when permits and certificates are necessary to export from Australia.

The rules will be legislative instruments under the Export Control Act 2020. They will be made by the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and will be subject to parliamentary checks and balances, in line with the current Orders.

Work on the rules is well progressed. The Export Legislation Taskforce will continue to consult on the rules as they are developed to ensure they are clear and fit for purpose. Register for updates.

Submissions are open on the Consultation Draft Export Control (Meat and Meat Products) Rules 2020 (draft meat rules) and Consultation Draft Export Control (Plants and Plant Products) Rules 2020 until 19 June 2020. You can find out more at the Have Your Say pages for the draft meat rules and the draft plant rules.

Trading partners will be consulted on an exposure draft of the full package of rules later in 2020. Trading partners will be advised of these arrangement via an SPS notification and they will have access to the exposure draft via the department’s website.


Stakeholder consultation is critical to the development of the new export control legislation. We have previously consulted on:

As noted, we will continue to consult stakeholders as we develop the rules during 2020.

Overview of the new legislative framework

Agricultural exports are currently regulated by over 20 Acts and 40 pieces of delegated legislation. The Act consolidates and streamlines existing export-related requirements. The new legislative framework will include:

The improved legislative framework will replace:

  • the Export Control Act 1982
  • export-related provisions in the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997
  • legislative instruments, such as orders and regulations.

Read the overview information sheet Outline for Improving Australia’s Export Legislation: Exposure Draft Export Control Bill 2019.

Some of the current legislative instruments were due to ‘sunset’ (cease to be law) on 1 April 2020. By approval of the Attorney-General, the sunsetting of 19 legislative instruments under the Export Control Act 1982 and the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997 was deferred until 1 April 2021.

Export Control (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2020

The Export Control (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2020 will repeal and amend other Acts and provide for transition from the old legislation to the new.

Wherever possible, something that exists under the old legislation (such as an approved arrangement) will continue in force under the new legislation. See General outline of Export Control (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2019 factsheet.

Next steps

The Export Legislation Taskforce will continue to consult stakeholders as we develop the Export Control Rules 2020. Register for updates.

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Last reviewed: 2 June 2020