Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why are inspection activities being changed?
- Increased quarantine intervention undertaken since 2001 has required that all sea containers entering Australia undergo an external inspection.
- Inspection data, collected since 2001, shows that almost all containers landed in Australia comply with biosecurity requirements on container cleanliness and do not pose a significant biosecurity risk.
2. What is this new policy initiative?
- The Sea Container Risk Management Policy (SCRMP) has been developed to manage the detection and intervention of biosecurity risk material on the external surfaces of sea cargo containers entering Australia.
- In line with the Beale Review recommendations, the policy’s focus is ‘of targeted management to minimise the risk of entry, establishment or spread of exotic pests and diseases on the external surfaces of sea containers entering Australia’.
- The high level of compliance and the development of this policy represents an outstanding achievement by AQIS staff in co-operation with cargo and shipping industries and emphasises that ‘quarantine is a shared responsibility’.
- The success of this new policy relies on overseas attitudes changing to ensure that hygiene and other quarantine risks associated with sea containers are addressed offshore prior to loading.
3. What are the key features of this new policy?
- Better targeting and 100 per cent AQIS intervention only for containers on high risk sea cargo pathways (for example, containers originating in Giant African Snail countries and rural destination containers).
- More efficient means of implementing electronic holds and targeting higher risk containers for mandatory intervention and enhanced inspection protocols for all containers moving to or through rural areas, including containers being land bridged by rail or road.
- Targeted wharf inspections and intervention based on risk assessment and management for lower risk containers moving to metropolitan destinations.
- Increased surveillance and possible third party industry arrangements for external inspections, including a revised approach, based on the analyses of available data verification activities for empty containers both on and offshore.
4. Will this change compromise Australia’s biosecurity?
- No. Instead of screening all containers, AQIS will be paying more attention to containers that continue to pose quarantine risks.
5. How will this policy affect Industry?
- For some nothing may change.
- A small number may experience an increased level of surveillance e.g. empty containers.
- For the majority we hope to see fewer interceptions and more efficient passage through the cargo logistics chain.
6. What are the benefits?
- An intelligence based approach to managing biosecurity risk.
- Risk targeted allocation of AQIS resources.
- Enhanced biosecurity regulation that will facilitate trade while focussing on targeted intervention.
- Management of quarantine risks offshore prior to loading minimises the threat of an exotic pest or disease establishing in Australia.
7. When will the changes occur?
- The policy is being implemented through a phased approach. Timelines and specific application of this policy may vary from region to region due to localised logistics issues.
- This may include the trialling of new inspection arrangements for containers travelling to or through rural areas.
8. Why are the changes happening now?
- The Government endorsed the Beale Report recommendations in December 2008. On 23 September 2009 the minister announced that ‘Consistent with the Beale report the Government has also moved from the previous system of Increased Quarantine Intervention, with inflexible targets, to a genuine risk management system.’
- After many months of data analysis and consultation with key stakeholders AQIS is now in a position to progressively implement these new arrangements.
9. Who should be contacted for further information?
Further information about AQIS sea container hygiene requirements can be obtained by contacting:
- your local AQIS office or
- the AQIS Sea Cargo Program in Canberra or phone 02 6272 3933.
23 Jun 2010