Minimise biosecurity risk for the year of the dragon

16 January 2012
DAFF 12/2D

The Chinese New Year is a busy time for Australia’s biosecurity officers, as thousands of people travel overseas and those staying in the country receive various gifts from family and friends overseas to mark the occasion.

First Assistant Secretary, Biosecurity Quarantine Operations, Tim Chapman, said the Australian Government is committed to minimising risks to Australia’s unique environment and has reminded people celebrating Chinese New Year about the importance of maintaining Australia’s biosecurity status.

“Biosecurity protects Australia’s plant, animal and human health by managing the risk of unwanted pests and diseases arriving in the country,” Mr Chapman said.

“Everyone can do their part to ensure Australia is protected from biosecurity risks, and it is important that family and friends who send gifts from overseas are aware of Australia’s strict biosecurity conditions.”

“To prevent the possibility of goods being delayed or seized, people sending gifts from overseas should familiarise themselves with Australia’s biosecurity conditions as items that contain food, animal or plant materials could pose a biosecurity risk.”

Items which are considered a biosecurity risk include:

  • Chicken, preserved pork sausages and dried beef
  • fresh bamboo shoots and wooden artefacts
  • citrus, persimmons
  • fresh and dried fruits including lychees and longans
  • lotus nuts
  • Chinese herbal medicines; and
  • products containing egg, especially duck eggs

“Visitors to Australia should be aware that on arrival, their luggage could be checked for items that may pose a biosecurity risk through an x-ray machine, by a detector dog team, or inspected by a biosecurity officer. Items ordered online and sent by mail will have similar checks,” Mr Chapman said.

“Declaring items on your Incoming Passenger Card does not automatically mean they will be confiscated, however failing to declare risk items could result in a fine or possible prosecution.

“In many cases, most items are returned after inspection, with some products requiring treatment to make them safe, or when treatment is not an option, the officer will discuss other alternatives with you depending on the nature of the item.”
For more information on what can and cannot be mailed or brought to Australia, visit www.daff.gov.au/aqis/about/public-awareness or call 1800 020 504 (free call in Australia).