16 May 2016 marks the final month before the Biosecurity Act 2015 comes into force, replacing the dated Quarantine Act 1908 and enhancing Australia’s defence against potentially damaging biosecurity threats from abroad.
Head of Biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Lyn O’Connell, encouraged everyone, from casual travellers to regular importers, to make sure they’re aware of changes that might affect them when the legislation takes effect on 16 June 2016.
“If you’re an importer or are involved in transport or supply chain logistics, it is important to make sure you’re across the legislation and whether there will be changes for you,” Ms O’Connell said.
“Key stakeholders were given one year to transition to the arrangements to make sure everyone understands their rights and responsibilities.
“We hosted a series of information sessions across Australia throughout March and April 2016 to provide an overview of the implementation of the legislation and explain how it may affect particular industries.
“Time is now running out, and I strongly encourage all interested parties to look into the changes that are being made and to make sure that they are ready.
“There are serious consequences for non-compliance with our biosecurity laws and importers will be expected to have familiarised themselves with the changes.
“Australia has strong biosecurity laws to protect us from exotic pests and diseases that could threaten our agriculture export industries as well as our unique environment, native flora and fauna, our tourism industries and lifestyle.
“This legislation replaces ageing laws originally designed to respond to diseases like the bubonic plague, measles and cholera at a time when people and goods only arrived by sea.
“Much has changed since then, with vastly improved means of transportation and ever-increasing volumes of trade and passengers, presenting new biosecurity challenges.
“This legislation is modern and flexible and has been designed to provide long-term support to the biosecurity system, regardless of advances in transport or technology.”