Be biosecurity aware this St Patrick's Day and every day

15 March 2013

Don’t rely on the luck of the Irish this St Patrick’s Day by making sure the gifts you buy, or have sent to you, from overseas meet Australia’s strict biosecurity requirements.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) reminds St Patrick’s Day revellers that presents such as lucky plant kits, shamrocks, shillelaghs (wooden walking sticks) and straw crosses can carry biosecurity risks that threaten Australia’s agricultural industries, environment or community health by potentially carrying plant pests or diseases.

First Assistant Secretary Border Compliance, Tim Chapman, said St Patrick’s Day was a timely reminder that the community should be aware of Australia’s biosecurity requirements before purchasing overseas gifts.

“If you’re expecting gifts from overseas or buying them online you should be aware of what can and what can’t be brought into Australia,” Mr Chapman said.

Common gifts like lucky plant kits have a number of parts that could pose a biosecurity risk. These kits include everything needed to grow a lucky plant (shamrocks or trees) including a basket, soil or compost and seed.

“Wicker baskets could be home to borer pests, soils could harbour bacteria or live insects and seeds could carry plant diseases not present in Australia,” Mr Chapman said.

“These types of gifts can be readily purchased online and it is the buyer’s responsibility to ensure they comply with Australia’s biosecurity requirements.”

DAFF officers at the international mail centres and airports are always on the look for items that could pose a biosecurity risk.

“All items ordered online, sent or brought in from overseas undergo stringent checks to assess biosecurity risks. They can be subject to x–ray, detector dogs or inspection by a DAFF officer,” Mr Chapman said.

“Failing to declare or falsely declaring risk items can result in a fine or possible prosecution.”

“Australia enjoys an enviable pest and disease–free status together we can keep it that way by being biosecurity aware.”

More information on planning gifts for St Patrick’s Day.

For more information on what can and cannot be mailed or brought to Australia, visit the DAFF website or call 1800 020 504 (free call in Australia).