Understand the Biosecurity Act

​The Biosecurity Act 2015 has introduced new terminology and some new requirements that you need to know about.

Key changes to our biosecurity operations

Whether you are directly affected by the legislation or not, it is worth understanding some of the key changes to our biosecurity operations:

Changes in terminology

One of the more noticeable changes is the way we communicate and interact with you.

A snapshot of some of the terms you might hear us say and those that we will no longer use include:

  • We are no longer talking about quarantine officers, but about biosecurity officers and biosecurity enforcement officers.
  • We are no longer talking about imported cargo, plant and animal material, but about goods.
  • We are still talking about aircraft, vessels and ships, but are also using the term conveyances, a new term defined by the Act that includes these modes of transport.
  • We are talking more about biosecurity risk and even less about quarantine.
  • We’re no longer talking about Quarantine Approved Premises or Compliance Agreements, but instead referring to approved arrangements.
  • We’re using the term ‘person in charge’.
  • We’re talking about abandonment and forfeiture, but you won’t hear us talk about seizing your goods or conveyance.
  • We’re talking about Biosecurity Import Risk Analysis or BIRA instead of Import Risk Analysis.

For more detail on new terminology and the definitions of these terms read Chapter 1 Part 2 of the Biosecurity Act 2015.

Six key goals underpin the Biosecurity Act

The Biosecurity Act was drafted with six strong principles in mind:

  1. Legislation for a strong agricultural industry — the Biosecurity Act provides a strong, clear and flexible legislative framework.
  2. Clear legislation to manage biosecurity risks — the Biosecurity Act clearly sets out the powers that can be exercised by officials as well as the requirements of those being regulated.
  3. Increasing efficiency and decreasing regulation — the Biosecurity Act is outcomes focused and aims to achieve the best biosecurity outcome while minimising regulatory impact.
  4. Improving compliance — the Biosecurity Act enables more effective and efficient targeting of non-compliant behaviour or activities, while reducing the burden on those that are compliant.
  5. Providing protection from public health risks — the Biosecurity Act contains a range of biosecurity measures to manage the public health risk posed by serious communicable diseases.
  6. Meeting Australia’s international obligations — the Biosecurity Act allows for the management of biosecurity risks in a manner that is consistent with Australia’s international obligations.

Our approach to compliance

Managing the biosecurity system is a shared responsibility between the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, stakeholders, clients, state and territory governments and the public.

The Biosecurity Act 2015 introduced a range of new compliance and enforcement tools, with options available to reward compliance with our biosecurity laws and to pursue those who choose not to comply.

To facilitate a smooth transition to the new legislative framework, we have adopted a specific compliance posture to guide the implementation and operation of the new legislation in its early phase.

In line with the department’s approach to optimise voluntary compliance, we are working with clients, stakeholders and the community to raise awareness of any new obligations.