Time's Up! Quarantine's tenure ends as Biosecurity takes control

After more than 100 years of service, Australia’s Quarantine Act 1908 has been replaced by the Biosecurity Act 2015.

The Quarantine Act was first drafted at a time when people and goods only arrived by sea. Since then, changed inbound transport options and growth in the volume of trade and passengers entering Australia means that biosecurity challenges have evolved. The Biosecurity Act established a new regulatory base to deal with these conditions now and into the future.

What has changed?

From 16 June 2016 the new Biosecurity Act will:

  • govern the importation and “post-entry” management of a wide range of plants, animals and plant and animal products
  • improve the means to manage biosecurity risks presented by diseases and pests that may cause harm to human, animal or plant health or the environment.
  • authorise the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to administer systems of control (licensing and compliance) and to co-ordinate a response in the event of a biosecurity emergency.

What will change for the University?

Generally, regulatory measures will be similar, or in some cases, more streamlined because the University already has well established risk management practices. See Research Services.

However, there will be a greater onus on importers or users of biosecurity materials to ensure that they have the necessary permissions and that all obligations under the Act are being met.  Penalties can include infringement notices, fines up to $20k and enforced undertakings; applied according to the risk any non-compliance may involve.

Import conditions and permits

Individual researchers importing biosecurity materials will find some changes to types of goods requiring import permits. Some will no longer require a permit where specific use conditions are able to be met. Refer to: Import conditions and permits under Australia’s Biosecurity Act.

However, should an import permit be required, it must be obtained prior to the arrival of goods in Australia. Importers run the risk of goods being destroyed on arrival if the necessary approvals are not in place.  Refer to Import permits required prior to arrival of goods

Approve premises and agreements

Under the Quarantine Act, the University was authorised to conduct research in Quarantine Approved Premises or under Compliance Agreements. The University will now have the status of a “Biosecurity Industry Participant” (BIP) and will be able to manage biosecurity risks within Approved Arrangements. This system will allow University research activity in secure facilities to continue so long as:

  1. Individuals involved met a biosecurity “fit and proper person” test
  2. Annual fees continue to be paid (formal renewal is no longer necessary)
  3. Biosecurity risks are well understood and operational arrangement acceptable to the Department
  4. It can be demonstrated that risks are being appropriately managed.

Refer to: Biosecurity Approved Arrangements

New terminology

With all this change, the terminology used to will also be updated, so that:

  1. Quarantine issues will now discussed in terms of biosecurity risk
  2. Biosecurity officers and biosecurity enforcement officers will administer the Act
  3. Approved Arrangements will replace the old Quarantine Approved Premises and Compliance Agreements.

Compliance support is available from Research Services.

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