Building a sustainable biosecurity system factsheet

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Key points

  1. The Australian Government is committed to a sustainable biosecurity system for Australia.
  2. The 2012–13 Budget allocates $524.2 million to boost Australia’s biosecurity system.
  3. Strong progress has been made in reforming Australia’s biosecurity system since 2008.
  4. Have your say when the new legislation is released in coming weeks.

A sustainable biosecurity system for Australia

Australia’s biosecurity system lies at the heart of our position as a trading nation. The 2012–13 Budget signals the ongoing commitment of the Australian Government to Australia’s biosecurity system, providing $524.2 million in new funding.

The Australian Government has invested more than $1.6 billion since 2009 to build a sustainable biosecurity system. This continued investment supports the significant task of managing Australia’s biosecurity system, and strengthens our ability to minimise threats to Australia’s primary production sectors, human health, and the environment. It has flow on effects to the wider Australian economy; through faster border movements, protection of Australia’s unique natural assets and a more effective system which facilitates international trade and underpins our reputation as a reliable exporter of high-quality food and fibre.

2012–13 Budget

The 2012–13 Budget package provides:

  • $379.9 million over seven years for the construction and operation of a new Australian Government owned and operated post entry quarantine facility for high risk plant and animal imports. This funding will deliver a state-of-the-art facility consolidating existing animal and plant services to a single integrated site near Melbourne
  • $124.5 million over four years (and then on an ongoing basis) for core risk response capability and external review and verification processes. This funding supports elements of biosecurity operations at international airports and mail centres and arrangements that support biosecurity operations; such as the Interim Inspector General of Biosecurity and the Biosecurity Advisory Council
  • $19.8 million over three years to support biosecurity information and communication technology infrastructure and systems to ensure that client needs can continue to be met
  • On top of the wider biosecurity investment a separate $95.9 million over seven years allocated from the Caring for our Country program will fund existing eradication programs for nationally significant pests and diseases. This ongoing allocation will ensure future incursions can be brought under control as soon as possible.

Biosecurity reform achievements to date

Reforms underway are consistent with the themes outlined in the 2008 independent review of Australia’s biosecurity and quarantine arrangements (the Beale Review), with a focus on the continuum to better support consistent service delivery onshore, at the border and offshore; providing effective biosecurity risk management underpinned by sound evidence and policy; improving the efficiency and responsiveness of operations through modern legislation and technology systems; and strengthening relationships.

The announcements in the 2012–13 Budget build on the strong progress in reforming Australia’s biosecurity system since 2008. The report – 'Reform of Australia’s biosecurity system – An update since the publication of One Biosecurity: a working partnership' – released by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator the Hon. Joe Ludwig, on 7 March 2012, details this progress and the challenges and opportunities ahead. The report is available online at www.daff.gov.au/biosecurityreform.

A great deal has been achieved and many benefits to industry and government have already been realised. Initial moves to a risk-based approach have resulted in productivity gains for industry. Export reforms have delivered more efficient export certification and inspection services and reduced regulatory costs. For imports, targeted external container inspections; faster vessel clearances; paperless processing of air cargo; and reduced inspection of compliant commodities are also delivering efficiencies.

Focus for 2012–13

The focus of reform in 2012–13 includes:

  • introducing new legislation to replace the century-old Quarantine Act 1908 into Parliament following consultation
  • continuing to progress work to deliver a state-of-theart post entry quarantine facility in partnership with the Department of Finance and Deregulation
  • implementing risk based approaches to biosecurity operations to reduce the administrative burden on compliant clients enabling faster clearance at the border, through evidence-based targeting of activities and behaviours that create biosecurity risk
  • strengthening a truly national biosecurity system by working closely with the states and territories to implement the recently signed Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity
  • examining the approaches to biosecurity funding to ensure that arrangements will continue to support a targeted and responsive biosecurity system
  • finalising the redevelopment of the Biosecurity Import Conditions (BICON) database and implementing it progressively throughout 2013
  • increasing and improving emergency response capacity against the threat of foot-and-mouth disease through implementation of the National Action Plan.

Have your say on the new legislation

The next significant goal is the release in coming weeks of the exposure draft biosecurity legislation and consultation regulation impact statement for public comment. Public consultation will last for eight weeks to ensure interested parties have an opportunity to comment and input into the legislation that is proposed for introduction during the Spring 2012 sitting of Parliament. The consultation period is expected to start in late May.

The new legislation is intended to deliver broader, yet simpler provisions that provide flexible powers to efficiently and responsively manage biosecurity risks. It will focus on responsive regulation enabling a system that intervenes where there is a biosecurity risk that needs to be managed and promotes effective cooperation between governments, trading partners, industry participants and the community.

For more information about the 2012–13 Budget for biosecurity, biosecurity reforms or the release of the exposure draft biosecurity legislation and the consultation regulation impact statement, please contact us by phone or email, or visit our website.