Cut flowers and foliage

​A risk review for fresh cut flowers and foliage imports

We have commenced a risk review for fresh cut flowers and foliage imports.

This risk review will be conducted in two parts. For part one we will assess the three major arthropod pest groups – thrips, aphids and mites. For part two we will assess other arthropod pests associated with fresh cut flowers and foliage. The assessment for part two will commence in 2019.

We will conduct part one of the risk review for fresh cut flowers and foliage in three key steps:

  1. Announce part one of the risk review for fresh cut flowers and foliage, on 11 July 2018, via Biosecurity Advice 2018-12.
  2. Release the draft report for part one of the risk review for a 60 day consultation period in August 2018.
  3. Release the final report for part one of the risk review before the end of 2018, following consideration of stakeholder comments.

A summary of the risk review background and process is available in the factsheet​.

Purpose of the review

In 2017, we conducted a review of import conditions for fresh cut flowers and foliage following an analysis of inspection records. The inspection records showed high rates of pest detections on large numbers of consignments of imported fresh cut flowers and foliage at the Australian border. In addition, some countries that ​export fresh cut flowers and foliage were found to have failed the inspections, with failure rates in excess of 50 per cent.

As a result of the 2017 review, import conditions for fresh cut flowers and foliage were amended and came into effect as of 1 March 2018.

This risk review was initiated to:

  • Clarify the pests of quarantine concern to Australia that are associated with global imports of cut flowers and foliage, and
    • this will draw from information provided by National Plant Protection Organisations and primarily our own interception data and previous risk analyses
  • Confirm that the introduction of new import conditions manage the biosecurity risks to achieve the appropriate level of protection for Australia.

General Information

Register as a stakeholder

We use the stakeholder register for distributing biosecurity risk analysis policy information. Stakeholders interested in receiving information and updates on this review are invited to subscribe via our online subscription service. By subscribing to Biosecurity Risk Analysis Plant, you will receive Biosecurity Advices and other notifications relating to plant biosecurity policy.

Protecting Australia from exotic pests

Australia is lucky to be free from many of the world’s most damaging plant pests. Exotic plant pests are capable of damaging our natural environment, destroying our food production and agriculture industries, and some could change our way of life. Australia’s biosecurity system, which includes the risk assessment process, helps protect us from exotic plant pests.

We undertake risk assessments of pests and identify risk management options to address any risks posed by these exotic pests. These measures reflect Australia’s overall approach to the management of biosecurity risk.

Zero risk is impossible. Aiming for zero risk would mean no tourists, no international travel and no imports of any commodities. Australia invests heavily in biosecurity to ensure risks are managed.

Australia exports almost two-thirds of its agricultural produce. The future of our agricultural and food industries, including their capacity to contribute to growth and jobs, depends on Australia’s capacity to maintain its animal and plant health status.

Australia accepts imports only when we are confident the risks of pests and diseases can be managed to achieve an appropriate level of protection for Australia.

International obligations

All World Trade Organization (WTO) members are signatories to the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the SPS Agreement), under which they have both rights and obligations.

The basic obligations of the SPS Agreement are that SPS measures must:

  • be based on a risk assessment appropriate to the circumstances or drawn from standards developed by the World Organisation for Animal Health and the International Plant Protection Convention
  • only be applied to the extent necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health
  • be based on science
  • not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate between WTO members, or be a disguised restriction on trade.

Under the SPS Agreement, each WTO Member is entitled to maintain a level of protection it considers appropriate to protect human, animal or plant life or health within its territory – in other words, its appropriate level of protection.

Appropriate level of protection

The appropriate level of protection (ALOP) for Australia is defined in the Biosecurity Act 2015 as ‘a high level of sanitary and phytosanitary protection aimed at reducing biosecurity risks to very low, but not to zero’. This definition was agreed with all our state and territory governments and recognises that a zero-risk stance is impractical.

The ALOP is a broad objective, and risk management measures are established to achieve that objective.

Read more about Australia’s ALOP

Biosecurity risk

The term ‘biosecurity risk’ is used to describe the combination of the likelihood and the consequences of a pest or disease of biosecurity concern entering, establishing and spreading in Australia.

Australia's biosecurity system protects our unique environment and agricultural sector and supports our reputation as a safe and reliable trading nation. This has significant economic, environmental and community benefits for all Australians.

New scientific information

Scientific information can be provided to us at any time, even after a risk analysis has been completed. We will consider the information provided and review the analysis.

Meeting Australia’s food standards

Imported food for human consumption must satisfy Australia’s food standards. Australian law requires that all food, including imported fresh fruit, meets the standards set out in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code and the requirements of the Imported Food Control Act 1992. Each state and territory also has its own food laws that must be met.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) is responsible for developing and maintaining the Food Standards Code. The standards apply to all food in Australia, irrespective of whether it is grown domestically or imported.

Timing of imports

The recommendations in the final report are an administrative step and reflect the completion of the risk analysis. Before imports can commence we will:

  • verify that a country can action the recommended risk management measures
  • publish import conditions on the Biosecurity Import Conditions System (BICON), and
  • issue import permits for trade to commence.

The decision to import agricultural produce to Australia is a commercial decision between an importer in Australia and a supplier in the exporting country who can meet the import conditions.

Contact information

For more information, stakeholders can email imports or phone 1800 900 090 (option 1, option 1)