Australian biosecurity ‘stronger than ever’

Legislation protecting the health of Australian farms, families, flora and fauna is stronger “than ever before”, according to Australia’s head of biosecurity policy.

A year following its greatest overhaul, Matt Koval said the Biosecurity Act 2015 has “modernised regulatory frameworks” and made it easier to adapt to changing biosecurity risks in a global trade.

“The new Biosecurity Act is designed to protect our $59 billion agricultural industries and the capacity for our nation to produce and export clean, safe and sustainable agricultural goods to the world,” Mr Koval said.

“It’s a vital function for Australia—but it’s not just about stopping threats at the border.

“Biosecurity involves many industries and millions of goods, vessels, parcels and people coming to Australia—everyone has a role to play in maintaining our world class biosecurity status.

“The new legislation recognises that biosecurity is a shared responsibility and reflects the essential role played by industry, stakeholders and the broader community to protect Australia from the threat of pests and diseases.”

To ensure a smooth transition and give industry time to adjust to new business practices, only those provisions that would be critical to operations in the first year had been rolled out.

“This approach was praised by the Australian National Audit Office in its report of January 2017, which said it meant industry was well prepared for the transition,” Koval said.

“Over the coming year we will continue to work closely with industry to progressively roll out the remaining biosecurity provisions.”

Stephen Morris, executive director of the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia, said the new legislation provided more certainty around the responsibilities associated with importing cargo into Australia.

“We have worked closely with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to ensure that the businesses we represent are able to better manage the biosecurity risk associated with international trade and supply chain management—without compromising efficiency,” he added.

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