Global Agriculture

Australia: Thorny end for cactus racket

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22 September 2023, Australia: Three individuals have been penalised after an attempt to import succulents was intercepted by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Deputy Secretary of Biosecurity Dr Chris Locke said these outcomes are a warning to anyone who ignores Australia’s biosecurity laws.

“We have three individuals who had the potential to seriously endanger Australia’s environment through the illegal importation of a high volume of succulents from overseas,” Dr Locke said.

“The plants were discovered in packages that had been mis-declared in order to circumvent the department’s biosecurity controls.

“Some of the plants imported were considered high-risk as they could have been carrying dangerous pathogens, including Xylella fastidiosa. Others in the collection were at serious risk of becoming weeds and causing irreversible harm to Australia’s environment and agricultural industries.”

These individuals attended court in New South Wales and Queensland and have all been found guilty of serious offences under the Biosecurity Act 2015, resulting in fines of up to $20,000 being applied to one individual and a 12-month good behaviour bond applied to the other.

The third individual was found guilty of 30 contraventions of the Biosecurity Act 2015 and sentenced to 10-months imprisonment. However, they were released immediately upon entering a 12-month, $2,000 good behaviour bond.

“Any breach of Australian biosecurity laws is taken extremely seriously, and huge penalties await those who deliberately break the law.

“An attempt to make a quick buck has now cost these individuals thousands. It’s a sharp lesson for them and a sombre reminder for us that we cannot afford to be complacent about biosecurity.

“Our strong biosecurity laws are there to protect more than $90 billion worth of agricultural production and $5.7 trillion worth of unique, environmental assets.

“Biosecurity is a shared responsibility, and we all need to play our part to keep our country safe.”

Also Read: Yara India’s knowledge-sharing session with FICCI: Shaping India’s agriculture for 2035

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