Australia: Checking it twice – biosecurity awareness is key to festive giving

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24 December 2021, Australia: Australia’s biosecurity officers have had a busy year in 2021, with some weird and wonderful frontline finds including reindeer meat, rat skewers and quails.

Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Andrew Metcalfe AO, urged those expecting gifts from family or friends overseas to remind senders of Australia’s biosecurity laws.

“This festive season is perfect time to remind anyone sending mail anywhere in Australia to make sure you comply with our biosecurity laws,” Mr Metcalfe said.

“And if you’re online shopping, check the requirements before purchasing and arranging delivery.

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“This year our biosecurity officers have detected everything from snails to quails to rat skewers and reindeer meat. Such animal products carry with them animal biosecurity risks such as foot and mouth disease and Avian Influenza, a serious disease of poultry.”

Notable detections this year at our mail centres and airports have included:

  • Freeze-dried quails
  • Live plants, including grafted fruit trees, orchids and succulents
  • Reindeer meat
  • BBQ bush rat skewers
  • Bird wing
  • Taxidermy rear end of a rat with a modelled mouth with prosthetic teeth

Head of Biosecurity, Mr Andrew Tongue reminded international travellers to comply with Australia’s biosecurity laws this holiday season to help protect Australia from serious biosecurity threats.

“It’s important to check Australia’s biosecurity requirements before packing biosecurity risk items, such as pork, fruit, plants, seeds, grains and spices,” Mr Tongue said.

“Make sure any footwear, clothing and recreation equipment is clean, dry and soil-free.

“And don’t bring any food from the plane into the airport terminal as you leave the plane.

“If brought to Australia, these items must be declared on your Incoming Passenger Card or disposed of in bins located in the terminal before undergoing biosecurity screening.

“There are no penalties for people who truthfully declare food or other biosecurity risk goods.

“There are serious penalties for breaching biosecurity laws. You could be issued with an infringement notice of up to $2,664 and/or have your visa cancelled.

“Returning Australians could face criminal prosecution or civil court action, substantial financial penalties and/or imprisonment.

“Travellers should be vigilant about equipment and gear they bring to Australia including bags, camping and sporting equipment. Check for any hitchhiker pests or other biosecurity risk material and if you find anything after you arrive, report it to the department – awe.gov.au/report.

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