Managing Biosecurity Risks Onshore (Onshore Powers)

​The Biosecurity Act 2015 provides biosecurity officers with powers to assess, monitor and manage biosecurity risk that is present or arises once a good or conveyance is no longer (or has never been), subject to biosecurity control.

Risk assessment powers include powers to:

  • give directions to move goods or a conveyance
  • inspect goods, conveyances or premises
  • take samples and affix notices
  • collect information

A risk assessment may only be undertaken when a biosecurity officer suspects, on reasonable grounds, that a pest or disease may be present, and that the pest or disease may pose an unacceptable level of biosecurity risk.

If, having completed the risk assessment, the biosecurity officer suspects on reasonable grounds that a pest or disease may be present, and that it poses an unacceptable level of biosecurity risk, they may use a biosecurity control order to manage the risk.

A biosecurity control order provides the legal authority for biosecurity officers to use risk management powers to manage a disease or pest that poses the unacceptable biosecurity risk. The order will specify powers that may be exercised to manage the biosecurity risk posed by the disease or pest

Biosecurity Zones

The Biosecurity Act introduces provisions for establishing different types of biosecurity zones. These zones allow the Director of Biosecurity to set requirements for biosecurity risk management within the zone and make appropriate powers available for biosecurity officers to monitor, control or respond to biosecurity risks.

The different types of zones are outlined below:

Biosecurity Monitoring zones

Biosecurity monitoring zones provide the power for biosecurity officers to set traps and equipment to monitor whether a disease or pest that may pose an unacceptable level of biosecurity risk has entered, emerged, established, or is likely to establish in Australian territory.

Permanent biosecurity monitoring zones

Permanent biosecurity monitoring zones are placed around areas that are considered to have a high level of biosecurity risk associated with them due to the activities undertaken in the 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 by the regulations

There are two permanent biosecurity monitoring zones in the Torres Strait.

Temporary biosecurity monitoring zones

Temporary biosecurity monitoring zones may be determined within Australian territory for the purpose of ensuring that a risk has not spread. Temporary biosecurity monitoring zones are established in consultation with State and Territory bodies responsible for biosecurity management.

Biosecurity activity zones

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

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 (PEQ) facilities.  Activity zones are established in consultation with State and Territory bodies responsible for biosecurity management.

Biosecurity Response zones

Biosecurity response zones can 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 a Biosecurity Response Zone is necessary  for the purpose of managing the biosecurity risk posed by the pest or disease.

Human health response zone

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 or spreading in Australian territory. The determination will specify entry and exist requirements for the zone.

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.

Biosecurity Emergencies

The Governor-General can declare a biosecurity emergency when the Agriculture Minister is satisfied a disease or pest is posing a severe and immediate threat or harm on a nationally significant scale to animal or plant health, the environment or related economic activities.

Emergency powers will only be used in limited circumstances to manage biosecurity risk on a nationally significant scale:

  • where the response exceeds the capability of state, territory and Commonwealth powers
  • where a rapid, nationally consistent response is required to manage a severe and immediate threat.

During a biosecurity emergency the Agriculture Minister may decide to put in place requirements to prevent or control the establishment or spread of the disease or pest.  

Requirements may include:

  • specifying entry and exit conditions for people, goods and conveyances
  • restricting movement between specified places
  • evacuation or removal of goods from specified places
  • treatment or destruction of goods
  • a direction not to move/interfere with or deal with goods or conveyances.
  • closing or restricting access to a premises.

The details of the requirements will depend on the nature and scale of the biosecurity risk associated with the disease or pest, and its location within Australian territory.


Contact us for more information

Call 1800 040 629 or email New Biosecurity Legislation to find out more about the Biosecurity Act 2015 and what it means for you.