Under the Biosecurity Act, all goods and conveyances arriving in Australian territory are subject to biosecurity control. Biosecurity officers will use assessment and management powers to address the biosecurity risks associated with goods and conveyances (aircraft and vessels) under biosecurity control.
Biosecurity officers inspect and manage biosecurity risks, assess compliance with relevant legislation, and determine whether information provided about goods and conveyances is correct and accurate.
Goods and conveyances remain subject to biosecurity control until they are officially released from biosecurity control.
The Act contains powers for biosecurity officers to assess biosecurity risk associated with goods/conveyances that are subject to biosecurity control, including powers to:
- move or not to move
- ask questions and request documentation
inspect and test.
Biosecurity officers may direct the person in charge to secure their goods/conveyances in a specified manner.
Using this power, the biosecurity officer can assess the level of biosecurity risk and limit the possibility of any biosecurity risk spreading.
Move or not to move
Biosecurity officers may give directions to a person in charge of goods/conveyances to:
- not move, deal with or interfere with the goods/conveyance or
- to move the goods/conveyance as soon as practicable to a specified place.
Ask questions and request documentation
Biosecurity officers may require a person to answer questions and provide documents in relation to the goods/conveyances if they suspect, on reasonable grounds, that a person has information about the goods/conveyances.
This will ensure that biosecurity officers have access to all the necessary information to make an accurate and timely assessment of the level of biosecurity risk associated with the goods conveyance.
Inspect and test
Biosecurity officers have the power to inspect and take samples of goods to identify whether a disease or pest is present and to assess the level of biosecurity risk associated with the goods.
A biosecurity officer may inspect, search and physically examine the goods.
A biosecurity officer can take test-samples of the goods themselves or direct a person in charge of the goods to deliver samples of the goods, or arrange for a person with appropriate qualifications or expertise to take samples and test the goods.
A biosecurity officer has the power to conduct a physical inspection of a conveyance to gather information and assess the level of biosecurity risk associated with the conveyance.
Biosecurity officers have a range of management powers to manage biosecurity risk associated with goods/conveyances that are subject to biosecurity control including:
- move or not to move
Move or not to move
Biosecurity officers may require goods to be moved to, or left in a specified place. A biosecurity officer may also give a direction not to move, deal with or interfere with an aircraft or vessel.
Where a biosecurity officer suspects on reasonable grounds that the level of biosecurity risk of goods is unacceptable, the officer can manage the risk by restricting:
- who can enter a premises where the goods are held
- what other goods and conveyances can be taken in or out of the premises where the goods are held
- how the goods that pose an unacceptable level of biosecurity risk can be moved, dealt with or interfered with.
An example of when the department would use the isolation power is if a biosecurity officer reasonably suspected that there was an unacceptable level of biosecurity risk associated with a monkey on an international yacht. The biosecurity officer could:
- require the monkey to be isolated on the yacht for a specified period
- impose requirements to manage the risk, such as restricting the persons who could enter the yacht
- require that other animals not be brought onto the yacht.
This provides biosecurity officers with the power to require that goods/conveyances be treated in a specific manner. If it is likely that the goods/conveyances will be damaged in the treatment process, the biosecurity officer must inform the person in charge that damage may occur and the person in charge must agree to the treatment. If the goods or the conveyance is high value the goods/conveyance must not be treated without written approval of the Director of Biosecurity.
This management power allows a biosecurity officer to require goods to be exported from Australian territory. The biosecurity officer may arrange for the goods to be exported or direct the person in charge to arrange for the goods to be exported as an alternative way to manage biosecurity risk.
If the biosecurity officer suspects, on reasonable grounds, that the goods/conveyances cannot be effectively treated to reduce the biosecurity risk to an acceptable level, they may, subject to notification and approval requirements, require the goods/conveyance be destroyed.
High value goods and conveyances must not be destroyed without written approval of the Director of Biosecurity.
Goods and conveyances may be released from biosecurity control by a biosecurity officer through the provision of a notice to the person in charge.
Goods/conveyances may also be released from biosecurity control in other ways such as:
- Automated by notice
- If the goods/conveyance leaves Australian territory
- By a biosecurity industry participant (operating under an approved arrangement) providing written notice releasing the goods/conveyance if the goods are destroyed.
Goods/conveyances are released through these mechanisms in recognition that they no longer pose an unacceptable level of biosecurity risk.
High value has been defined in the regulations. If the goods are high value, and treatment or destruction is required, the decision to treat or destroy must be made by the Director of Biosecurity or their delegate before taking action.
High-value conveyances are conveyances of a value greater than $999.99.
For goods other than live animals or animal reproductive material, high-value goods are goods of a value greater than:
- $999 999.99 for goods to be treated in a manner likely to cause damage
- $9 999.99 for goods that are to be destroyed.
For goods that are live animals or animal reproductive material, high-value goods are goods of a value greater than $9 999.99.
Decisions relating to high value goods and conveyances, as well as a range of other provisions of the Biosecurity Act, require officers to take certain principles into account. The aim of the principles is to ensure that any direction given or action undertaken is necessary, appropriate and adapted and does not impact on the person or their rights any more than is necessary to manage the level of biosecurity risk posed by the goods or conveyance.
A person can request review of a decision to give approval to destroy high value goods or a conveyance.