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 (the Act) 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 (the Rules), and the new legislation will commence on 28 March 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 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. Once finalised, the Rules will replace the current legislation.

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 they will be subject to parliamentary checks and balances, in line with the current Orders.

Exposure Draft Export Control Rules 2020

The department is consulting international trading partners and domestic stakeholders on the Exposure Draft Export Control Rules 2020 (the draft Rules). Consultation will occur in two tranches, each lasting 60 days:

  • Tranche one includes the draft Rules for eggs, fish, meat, milk, organic goods, plant and poultry. Consultations commenced on 7 September 2020 and concludes on 5 November 2020.
  • Tranche two will include the draft Rules for animals, rabbit and ratite, wild game and wood. Consultations will commence later this year, with details to be confirmed.

These consultations meet Australia’s obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary measures. Trading partners will have an opportunity to comment on the draft Rules, and domestic stakeholders will have another opportunity to provide feedback. Consultation on the draft Rules is critical to ensuring that Australia’s agricultural export legislation is fit for purpose – supporting growth and innovation, while maintaining the standards trading partners expect.

You can provide feedback on the draft Rules included in tranche one via the links to the department’s Have Your Say pages:

Previous consultation

Details of our previous consultations with stakeholders, critical to shaping Australia’s new agricultural export legislation are available via these links:

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 and legislative instruments, such as orders and regulations.

As some of these legislative instruments were due to ‘sunset’ (cease to be law) on 1 April 2020, the Attorney-General approved a deferral of the sunsetting of 19 legislative instruments under the Export Control Act 1982 and the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997 until 1 April 2021.

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Last reviewed: 7 September 2020