Biosecurity zones

The Biosecurity Act 2015 introduces provisions for establishing different types of biosecurity zones. These zones allow the Director of Biosecurity to:

  • specify the area of the zone
  • set requirements for biosecurity risk management within the zone
  • give biosecurity officers the appropriate powers to monitor, control or respond to biosecurity risks.

Monitoring zones

Biosecurity monitoring zones enable monitoring of whether a disease or pest that may pose an unacceptable level of biosecurity risk has entered, emerged or established (or is likely to). Monitoring is undertaken by biosecurity officers who can set traps and equipment within the specified area.

Permanent biosecurity monitoring zones

Encompass the area 400m beyond the boundary of:

  • first points of entry for aircraft, vessels and goods
  • international mail centres
  • biosecurity activity zones
  • other places as prescribed in regulation

The regulations prescribe two permanent biosecurity monitoring zones in Torres Strait, which encompass the parts of Australian territory that are in the protected zone and the Torres Strait permanent biosecurity monitoring zone (formerly the Special Quarantine Zone).

Whilst there is no restriction on the types of pests or diseases that may be monitored within a permanent biosecurity monitoring zone, initially the department will only monitor for vectors around First Points of Entry, consistent with current arrangements with state and territory authorities.

Temporary biosecurity monitoring zones

May be determined within Australian territory for the purpose of ensuring that a risk has not spread. Determinations of temporary biosecurity monitoring zones are made in consultation with state and territory bodies responsible for biosecurity management. Additional powers available for use by biosecurity officers in a temporary biosecurity monitoring zone will be included in the determination.

Activity zones

Biosecurity activity zones may be determined over an area in Australian territory that is considered to be a high biosecurity risk where:

  • the area is a place where powers are exercised or functions or duties are performed by, or on behalf of the Commonwealth under the Act, and
  • the Director of Biosecurity (or delegate) is satisfied that it is necessary to make a determination for the purpose of managing biosecurity risks associated with the exercise of those powers or the performance of those functions or duties.

Biosecurity activity zones are designed to allow the Commonwealth to effectively manage biosecurity risks associated with persons, goods and conveyances entering and exiting areas of elevated biosecurity risk, such as Post Entry Quarantine facilities.  Activity zones are established in consultation with state and territory bodies responsible for biosecurity management.

Response zones

Biosecurity response zones may be determined over an area in Australian territory where:

  • a biosecurity officer suspects, on reasonable grounds, that a disease or pest may be present on goods or in premises in an area and  that it may pose an unacceptable level of biosecurity risk, and
  • the Director of Biosecurity (or delegate) is satisfied that it is necessary to make a determination for the purpose of managing the biosecurity risk posed by the pest or disease

The determination will specify which risk assessment and management powers are available to biosecurity officers to manage the biosecurity risk.

Important: while these powers provide new scope for the Commonwealth to engage in response activities, state and territory governments continue to have primary responsibility for responses within their jurisdictions.

Human health response zones

The Director of Human Biosecurity may determine an area within a state or territory to be a human health response zone if satisfied that it is necessary to do so for the purposes of preventing, or reducing the risk of, a listed human disease emerging, establishing itself or spreading in Australian territory or a part of Australian territory. The Department of Health has policy and operational carriage of this power, however biosecurity officers have the power to ask questions and/or require written information to be provided by individuals within a human biosecurity response zone.