Infringement Notice Scheme

​Passengers arriving in Australia, importers, import industry participants, the airline and shipping industries and other people bringing goods or conveyances into Australia need to be aware of the penalties for not complying with biosecurity requirements.

On 16 June 2016, the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Biosecurity Act) came into effect and introduced a framework of modern regulatory tools to manage compliance. This framework includes an Infringement Notice Scheme (INS), enforceable undertakings, injunctions and civil penalties.

The INS includes 52 infringement notices. Some can be issued at first points of entry such as airports and seaports. Some relate to cargo and ballast water. Others can be used across the biosecurity continuum.

Infringement notices provide an administrative method for dealing with certain breaches of the law and are typically used for low-level offences and contraventions. An infringement notice provides an alternative to prosecution for an offence and to proceedings for a civil penalty order.

If you are issued with an infringement notice and choose to pay the amount specified in the notice on time, all guilt or liability regarding the alleged contravention is discharged. If you choose not to pay, then you may be prosecuted for an offence or proceedings for a civil penalty order may be brought against you. The court may then impose the maximum penalty for the contravention.

Your infringement notice sets out information about the payment amount and method. It also explains the processes for seeking a withdrawal of a notice and an extension of the payment period.

Infringement notices at the airport

The INS has four contraventions in an airport where an infringement can be issued.

These include:

  • failing to answer questions or provide information in writing in relation to goods
  • failing to follow directions relating to the movement of goods
  • knowingly providing false and misleading information or providing information that omitted any matter or thing without which the information was misleading
  • knowingly producing a false or misleading document in compliance or purported compliance with the Biosecurity Act.

A biosecurity officer can issue multiple infringement notices to you if you have committed multiple contraventions that are subject to an infringement notice.

Three of the contraventions have a requirement to pay on the spot, which means you must pay at the Australian Border Force Duty Counter prior to leaving the airport (unless an extension has been granted by the biosecurity officer at the time of issue).

The three contraventions that have a payment period of on-the-spot are:

  • s 126(2): Failing to answer questions, or provide information in writing in relation to goods, as required by a biosecurity officer under s 126(1).
  • s 128(2): not complying with a biosecurity officer’s direction/s under s 128(1):
    • not to move, deal with or interfere with goods
    • to move goods, as soon as practicable, to a place specified by the biosecurity officer
    • any other direction relating to the movement of goods.
  • s 532(1): Knowingly providing information that is:
    • false or misleading
    • omits any matter or thing without which the information is misleading when you were required to answer a question or provide information in relation to goods under s 126(1) or s 196(2).

The scheme also has one contravention where an infringement has a standard 28 day payment period. This infringement is for:

  • s 533(1): Knowingly producing a document/s that is false or misleading in compliance or purported compliance with the Act.

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How much is my infringement notice?

Under most Commonwealth laws, financial penalties are generally expressed in terms of ‘penalty units’ instead of dollar figures. Section 4AA of the Crimes Act 1914 sets the monetary amount of a penalty unit, which as of 1 July 2017 will be $210.

The amount payable under each the four infringement notices that can be issued to you in an airport is 2 penalty units or $420.

On 1 July 2017, the value of a Commonwealth penalty unit increased from $180 to $210. This means that the financial penalties for contravening the Biosecurity Act have increased from this date.

The increase to the Commonwealth penalty unit value is necessary to accommodate inflation since the value was last adjusted in 2015, to ensure that the real value of the penalty unit is maintained. The new penalty unit value will only apply to notices issued on or after 1 July 2017. This means that the changes will not impact on current proceedings or notices that were issued before this date.

How can I pay my infringement notice?

If you are issued with an infringement notice at the airport and have not been granted an extension of time to pay, it is an on-the-spot fine.

If you choose to pay the on-the-spot notice, you must do so prior to leaving the airport as the Infringement Notice Unit (INU) cannot accept payment once you have left the airport. Your notice will be considered to be unpaid and proceedings seeking a civil penalty order under Part 4 of the Regulatory Powers Act 2014 may be brought against you in relation to the alleged contravention.

You must pay at the Australian Border Force Duty Counter with either a credit card or Australian legal tender (cash). Payment of the penalty amount on the notice is not an admission of guilt or liability.

If you seek, and are granted an extension of time to pay, the biosecurity officer will provide you with a Notice of Extension form which provides further information on how and when to pay by.

When completing your form you must allow sufficient postage time for your letter to arrive to the department, as payments received outside of the specified payment period cannot be accepted by the department.

Can I request an extension of time to pay my infringement notice?

If you have been issued with an infringement notice you may request an extension of time in which to pay the notice as long as you ask the biosecurity officer at the time of issue. You cannot request an extension for an on-the-spot infringement notice once you have left the airport. The biosecurity officer can extend a payment date for up to 28 days depending on the individual circumstances.

If you have already received an extension at the airport and still require further time to pay your notice, you must apply for this within the current extension period, as late payments received outside of the specified payment period cannot be accepted by the department. You can submit a request for additional time to pay though the INU.

What happens if I don’t pay my infringement notice?

If you choose not to pay the penalty amount outlined on the infringement notice or don’t pay within the specified payment period (including any extension period given), then court proceedings seeking a civil penalty order under Part 4 of the Regulatory Powers Act 2014 may be brought against you in relation to the alleged contravention.

The below shows the maximum penalty that a court could impose if you are found to have contravened the Biosecurity Act. These amounts are current as of 1 July 2017.

s 126(2) 120 penalty units ($25,200)

s 128(2) 120 penalty units ($25,200)

s 532(1) 60 penalty units ($12,600)

s 533(1) 60 penalty units ($12,600)

Can I request a withdrawal of my infringement notice?

If you have been issued with an infringement notice you may write to the Director of Biosecurity seeking the withdrawal of the notice.

To request a withdrawal you:

  • must make the request in writing
  • should provide evidence or any information to assist the INU in deciding whether or not to withdraw the infringement notice.

If you are acting on behalf of someone who has received an infringement, an Authority to Act form must also be provided with your submission. The completed form allows the INU to review the matters you have raised on behalf of the recipient. The INU will notify the nominated representative of the infringement notice of its decision, in writing. This form can be found as a PDF at the bottom of this page.

The Director of Biosecurity INU may withdraw an infringement notice of theirits own volition or following a request for withdrawal from the recipient of the notice.

How can I contact the Infringement Notice Unit?

The best way to contact the INU is via email: InfringementUnit@agriculture.gov.au

Phone

You can contact us by phone, from Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm AEST, on 02 6272 4965

Postal address

Infringement Notice Scheme
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
GPO Box 858, Canberra ACT 2601

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Other infringement notices

Biosecurity enforcement officers have the powers and ability to issue all 52 of the infringement notices under the Infringement Notice Scheme (INS). They can issue infringement notices to importers and import industry participants across all import pathways. They can also issue infringement notices to manage biosecurity risks relating to ships and aircraft and biosecurity risks onshore.

A list of the 52 infringement notices that can be issued by biosecurity enforcement officers for contraventions of the Biosecurity Act 2015 are set out in the table below. This overview is a summary of the relevant provisions.

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52 Infringement notices

Section numberExplanation of contravention
124(2)A person in charge of goods fails to comply with a direction to secure the goods
125(4)A person in charge of goods fails to comply with a direction to deliver samples of goods to the biosecurity officer
126(2)A failure to comply with a requirement to answer questions or provide information in writing in relation to goods
127(3)A failure to comply with a requirement to produce documents in relation to goods specified by the biosecurity officer
128(2)A failure to comply with a direction given by a biosecurity officer to not move, deal with or interfere with goods
129(2)A failure to comply with a requirement not to interfere with, remove or deface a biosecurity control notice affixed to goods or given to a person in charge of goods
130(2)An unauthorised person fails to comply with a direction to not move, deal with or interfere with goods in relation to which a direction has been given or a notice has been affixed
139(3)A failure to comply with a direction to not interfere with, remove or deface a notice affixed to goods
188(1)A person receives, or has in their possession prohibited or suspended goods that have been brought or imported into Australian territory
196(4)A person on an incoming aircraft or vessel fails to comply with a direction to provide information (including by answering questions) for the purpose of assessing the level of biosecurity risk associated with the person and any goods that that person has with them
198(2)A person in charge or the operator of a conveyance fails to comply with a direction to secure a conveyance in a manner, and for a period (which must not exceed 48 hours), specified by the biosecurity officer
200(2)A failure to comply with a direction to provide information, answer questions, or provide information in writing, in relation to a conveyance
201(3)A failure to comply with a direction to produce documents in relation to a conveyance as specified by the biosecurity officer
202(2)A person in charge or the operator of a conveyance fails to comply with a direction to not move, deal with or interfere with a conveyance; to move the conveyance, as soon as practicable, to a place specified by the biosecurity officer; any other direction relating to the movement of a conveyance; or cause the conveyance to be moved to another place
203(2)A person interferes with, removes or defaces a notice affixed to a conveyance or given to a person in charge of a conveyance
204(2)An unauthorised person moves, deals with or interferes with a conveyance to which a direction to secure or relating to movement has been given
214(3)A person interferes with, removes or defaces a notice affixed to a conveyance
220(1)The person in charge or the operator of an incoming aircraft or vessel that is subject to biosecurity control fails to ensure that each person (including a member of the crew) on board the aircraft or vessel is given information about biosecurity requirements under the laws of the Commonwealth
221(3)The person in charge of a vessel that is within Australian territory has failed to ensure that the prescribed quarantine signal is displayed on the vessel in the circumstances and in the manner prescribed by the regulations
300B(2)The person in charge or operator of a vessel  fails to comply with a direction to secure the vessel in a manner, and for a period (which must not exceed 48 hours), specified by the biosecurity officer
300C(4)The person in charge of the vessel fails to comply with a direction to deliver to the biosecurity officer samples of ballast water from the vessel*
300D(2)A failure to comply with a direction to answer questions, or provide information in writing, in relation to a vessel
301(4)The owner of a vessel fails to produce a record or a copy of a record as required by a biosecurity officer and does not do it as soon as reasonably practicable
317(3)A person in charge of goods or a conveyance fails to comply with a direction to secure the goods or conveyance as specified by the biosecurity officer
318(4)A person in charge of goods or premises fails to deliver to the biosecurity officer such samples of the goods or premises as specified in the biosecurity officer’s direction
319(2)A failure to answer questions, or provide information in writing in relation to goods or premises as required by a biosecurity officer
320(3)A failure to produce documents in relation to goods or premises as required by a biosecurity officer
321(2)The person in charge of goods or a conveyance fails to comply with a direction not to move, deal with or interfere with the goods or conveyance; a direction to move the goods or conveyance, as soon as practicable, to a place specified by the biosecurity officer; any other direction relating to the movement of the goods or conveyance; or cause the goods or conveyance to be moved to another place
322(3)A person interferes with, removes or defaces a notice affixed to goods or a conveyance
323(1)An unauthorised person moves, deals with or interferes with the goods or conveyance to which a notice has been affixed by a biosecurity officer
348(3)A person interferes with, removes or defaces a notice affixed to goods or premises by a biosecurity officer
363(1)An unauthorised person moves, deals with or interferes with the goods or premises to which a notice has been affixed by a biosecurity officer
373(1)An unauthorised person interferes with, removes or defaces notices or markings identifying a biosecurity response zone
374(1)An unauthorised person interferes with, removes or defaces  the notice or markings identifying goods or premises in a biosecurity response zone
381(1)An unauthorised person interferes with, removes or defaces  the notice or markings identifying a biosecurity monitoring zone
382(1)An unauthorised person interferes with, removes or defaces  the notice or markings identifying goods or premises in a permanent biosecurity monitoring zone
383(1)An unauthorised person interferes with, removes or defaces the trap, equipment or other structure set up in a permanent biosecurity monitoring zone
391(1)An authorised person interferes with, removes or defaces the notice or markings identifying a temporary biosecurity monitory zone
392(1)An unauthorised person interferes with, removes or defaces the notice or markings identifying goods or premises in temporary biosecurity monitoring zone
393(1)An unauthorised person interferes with, removes or defaces the trap, equipment or other structure set up in a temporary biosecurity monitoring zone
401(1)An unauthorised person interferes with, removes or defaces the notice or markings identifying a biosecurity activity zone
402(1)An unauthorised person interferes with, removes or defaces the notice or markings identifying goods or premises in a biosecurity activity zone
438(1)A person gives information in connection to biosecurity activities that are being or are to be carried out by the biosecurity industry participant in accordance with an approved arrangement covering the biosecurity industry participant to a biosecurity officer and does so knowing that the information is false or misleading
439(1)A person produces a document to a biosecurity industry participant; and the person does so knowing that the document is false or misleading and the information is given in connection with biosecurity activities that are being, or are to be, arranged covering the biosecurity industry participant
456(3)A person, during a biosecurity emergency period, interferes with, removes or defaces the notice affixed to goods or conveyance
532(1)A person gives information in compliance or purported compliance with this Act; and the person does so knowing the information is false or misleading; or omits any matter or thing without which the information is misleading
533(1)A person produces a document to another person; and the person does so knowing that the document is false or misleading; and the document is produced in compliance or purported compliance with this Act
556(4)The person in charge of a conveyance fails to comply with a direction to provide suitable and sufficient food and sleeping accommodation for the biosecurity officer
600(6)A person in charge of goods fails to comply with the direction to secure the goods in a manner specified by the biosecurity officer; a direction not to move, deal with or interfere with the goods; a direction to move the goods to a place specified by the biosecurity officer; and other directions relating to the movement of goods
601(1)A person is given a direction in relation to withheld goods and the person moves, deals with or interferes with the goods
607(1)A direction has been given in relation to a detained conveyance and a person fails to comply with a direction to not move, deal with or interfere with the conveyance
631(3)A person fails to comply with a direction or request to not damage or destroy goods whilst following a direction to do a thing (including taking a biosecurity measure) in relation to goods for the purposes of this Act and the person did not act in food faith and the destruction or damage was not a reasonable or necessary result of complying with the direction or request in relation to the goods

How much is my infringement notice?

Under most Commonwealth laws, including the Biosecurity Act, financial penalties are expressed in terms of ‘penalty units’ instead of dollar figures. Section 4AA of the Crimes Act 1914 sets the monetary amount of one penalty unit at $210, as of 1 July 2017.

While the amount payable under an infringement notice issued by biosecurity enforcement officers varies depending on the contravention or offence, generally the amount is 12 penalty units (currently $2,520) for an individual and 60 penalty units (currently $12,600) for a company.

How can I pay my infringement notice?

If you are issued with an infringement notice by a biosecurity enforcement officer, the payment period for the infringement is 28 days after the day the notice was given.

You may pay the penalty amount specified on your infringement notice within the payment period displayed on the notice with a credit card, cheque, money order or electronic funds transfer. Further payment details can be found on the back of your infringement notice.

Can I request an extension of time to pay my infringement notice?

If you have been issued with an infringement notice you may request an extension of time in which to pay the notice by contacting the department’s Infringement Notice Unit (INU) (see details below).

You may request an extension of time in which to pay the notice as long as you seek the extension of time within the original payment period. You cannot request an extension once the original payment period has ended.

If you have already received an extension and still require further time to pay your notice, you must apply for this within the extended period, as late payments received outside of the extended payment period cannot be accepted by the department. You may request and extension more than once.

What happens if I don’t pay my infringement notice?

If you choose not to pay the penalty amount outlined on the infringement notice or don’t pay within the payment period specified in your notice (including any extension period given), then court proceedings seeking a civil penalty order may be brought against you in relation to an alleged contravention, or you may be prosecuted for an offence if you have contravened an offence provision under the Biosecurity Act.

Can I request a withdrawal of my infringement notice?

If you have been issued with an infringement notice you may write to the Director of Biosecurity seeking the withdrawal of the notice.

To request a withdrawal you:

  • must make the request in writing; and
  • may provide information about the circumstances of the alleged contravention and any other relevant information to assist the Director of Biosecurity to make a decision on your request.

If you are acting on behalf of someone who has received an infringement notice, an Authority to Act form must also be provided with your submission. The completed form allows the INU to review the matters you have raised on behalf of the notice recipient. The INU will notify the nominated representative of the infringement notice of its decision, in writing.

The Director of Biosecurity has the ability to withdraw an infringement notice whether or not the notice recipient has made written representations seeking the withdrawal.

How can I contact the Infringement Notice Unit?

The best way to contact the INU is via email: InfringementUnit@agriculture.gov.au

Phone

You can contact us by phone, from Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm AEST, on 02 6272 4965

Postal address

Infringement Notice Scheme
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
GPO Box 858, Canberra ACT 2601

Download

Document

Pages

File size

Infringement Notice Scheme - Authority to Act Form PDF

1

612 KB

If you have difficulty accessing these files, visit web accessibility for assistance.

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