Meat & Livestock News

Australia Introduces Stringent Biosecurity Measures for Incoming Travellers

Doctor woman use infrared forehead thermometer for checking body temperature scan travel passenger fever in quarantine for coronavirus wearing safety protective mask at International terminal airport

Australia has tightened its biosecurity regulations, introducing measures that could lead to visa cancellations for visitors who fail to declare prohibited plant and meat products at the border.

This amendment to the Biosecurity Act empowers officials to better safeguard Australia’s ecosystem and its significant agricultural export industry, valued at $70 billion.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles, in a statement from late October, outlined that visa cancellations could be enforced if there is reasonable belief of an attempt to conceal goods from biosecurity officials. The new rules apply to various visa categories, including visitor, student, working holiday, maritime crew, and temporary work visas.

Previously, visa cancellations were possible if false or misleading declarations were made or if individuals refused to answer questions from biosecurity officers. The recent overhaul follows September’s increase in penalties for intentional concealment of products in luggage or mislabelling of containers.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt emphasised that the updated laws will allow for a more targeted approach to non-compliance and enhance the biosecurity risk assessment of travellers.

The changes also introduce strict liability offences for less serious incidents that could still pose a threat to Australia’s agriculture, population, environment, and economy.

The urgency of robust biosecurity measures was highlighted by a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Indonesia in May 2022, which raised alarm among Australian farmers.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry estimated that such an outbreak in Australia could potentially result in an economic loss of about $80 billion, adjusted to 2020-21 values.