The Biosecurity Act 2015

The Biosecurity Bill 2014 and supporting legislation received royal assent from the Governor-General on 16 June 2015 and has now become the Biosecurity Act 2015​ (Biosecurity Act).

The Biosecurity Act will co​mmence on 16 June 2016, 12 months after royal assent, replacing the Quarantine Act 1908 (Quarantine Act). Just as with the Quarantine Act, the Biosecurity Act will be co-administered by the Ministers responsible for Agriculture and Water Resources and Health.

Until commencement of the Biosecurity Act, the Quarantine Act 1908 remains the primary piece of biosecurity legislation in Australia.

The 12 month delay is to ensure clients, staff and stakeholders understand their rights and responsibilities under the Biosecurity Act and there is a smooth transition to the new regulatory arrangements. Some parts of the legislation have transitional arrangements and further delayed commencement dates.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (the department) will continue to consult with staff, stakeholders and clients to develop delegated legislation and supporting policies and procedures under the Biosecurity Act.

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Why has the Biosecurity Act been introduced?

The Biosecurity Act represents a comprehensive modernisation of Australian biosecurity legislation. It was developed through consultation with staff across the department as well as with industry, state and territory governments, environment groups, health professionals, trading partners and the general public.

The Biosecurity Act has been designed to be flexible and responsive to changes in technology and future challenges.

Did you know? The department has worked with more than 400 organisations over recent years representing a vast range of sectors to consult on the design and development of this new biosecurity legislation.

Setting up a modern and responsive legislative framework and improving the underpinning processes, means a more robust biosecurity system that benefits everyone.

  • For the Australian farmer, a robust biosecurity system helps keep out exotic pests and diseases and also helps to reduce the impact should they enter Australia. Ensuring that goods being imported meet Australia's high biosecurity standard protects the productivity of our farms.
  • For the Australian economy, it means an increased likelihood of sustained domestic production and international exports leading to a competitive and profitable agricultural sector.
  • For the Australian community, it means everyone can continue to enjoy a prosperous nation and live life with the amenities they are accustomed to.

A robust biosecurity system is important in helping prevent the entry and establishment of exotic pests and diseases likely to harm Australia's agricultural systems, natural environment, community health and economy. Scientific evidence and advice plays an important role in our biosecurity system to help us make the right decisions, at the right time, to achieve the best results.

The implementation of the biosecurity legislation is a large body of work for the department and its success is critical to a large number of clients and stakeholders. Client and stakeholder understanding of how the department will implement the new regulatory framework is essential to ensuring that all clients and stakeholders are able to comply with the Biosecurity Act from the start.

To make sure you receive the latest information about the Biosecurity Act and supporting practices and procedures, please subscribe to the biosecurity legislation distribution list, email New Biosecurity Legislation or phone 1800 040 629.

What's in the Biosecurity Act?

The Biosecurity Act is easy to read and reading the explanatory memorandum is also a good way to build your understanding of the new legislation.

The biosecurity legislation consists of the Biosecurity Act 2015 and supporting Acts.

The Biosecurity Act provides for a strong and modern regulatory framework for the management of biosecurity risks to support Australia’s biosecurity system.

The Biosecurity Act can be found on the ComLaw website and other supporting material can be found on the Australian Parliament House website:

Supporting Acts manage the transitional process from the Quarantine Act to the Biosecurity Act including extended transitional arrangements to manage biosecurity risk and amendments to other Commonwealth legislation.

The following supporting Acts can be found on the ComLaw website:

The following materials can be found on the Australian Parliament House website:

  • Explanatory memorandum for the Biosecurity (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2014
  • Second reading speech on the Biosecurity (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2014
  • Explanatory memorandum for the three Biosecurity Charging Imposition Acts
  • Second reading speeches for the three Biosecurity Charging Imposition Acts.

Subordinate Legislation

The Biosecurity Act 2015 has been designed to be flexible and responsive to changes in technology and future challenges. In line with this approach, subordinate legislation has been developed in the following areas:

  • Inspector-General of Biosecurity
  • Biosecurity Import Risk Analyses
  • Prohibited and conditionally non-prohibited goods
  • Information gathering
  • Assessment and management
  • General goods
  • General conveyances
  • First points of entry
  • Ballast water and sediment
  • Pre-arrival notices and reports
  • Post-border monitoring, control and response
  • Approved arrangements
  • Biosecurity emergencies
  • Compliance and enforcement
  • Governance and officials
  • Cost recovery and compensation
  • Application of the biosecurity legislation to the Torres Strait and Australian territories
  • Human health.

A range of workshops and forums are underway across the country to discuss details of delegated legislation and allow stakeholders and clients to consider how the legislation will affect their industry.

The department will continue to engage with stakeholders on the details of the regulations and supporting administrative policies and procedures in preparation for commencement. ​

Last reviewed:
20 May 2016