Joint media release: Stronger Maritime and Aviation Human Biosecurity

1 September 2021

Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, the Hon David Littleproud MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Greg Hunt

The Australian Government is committed to ensuring our biosecurity laws keep pace with new and emerging biosecurity threats, with the Biosecurity Amendment (Enhanced Risk Management) Bill introduced into Parliament today. 

Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, David Littleproud and Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said the Bill would amend the Biosecurity Act 2015 to enhance the operation of the biosecurity framework.

“The passage of this Bill will address many recommendations made by the Inspector-General of Biosecurity in his review of the Ruby Princess incident as well as the recommendations arising from the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess,” Minister Littleproud said.

“As well as strengthening the management of human health risks across maritime and aviation pathways, this Bill will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the administration of the Biosecurity Act, and increase a range of civil and criminal penalties.”

Minister Hunt said the measures would help to enhance our already world class biosecurity arrangements to protect against future pandemics.

The Bill will amend the Biosecurity Act to provide for human biosecurity group directions to be made to manage the risk posed by classes of people who have, or may have been exposed to, a listed human disease such as COVID-19, and have travelled to Australia, such as passengers on board a cruise ship.

The Bill will also expand pre-arrival reporting requirements under the Biosecurity Act to ensure accurate and up to date information is available to assess biosecurity risk.

Minister Littleproud said the Bill will also continue the Australian Government’s commitment to cracking down on contraventions of our biosecurity laws.  

“The Australian Government continually reviews penalties under the Biosecurity Act and is taking a staged approach to ensure criminal and civil penalties for contraventions of our biosecurity laws are proportionate and appropriate,” Minister Littleproud said. 

“Once passed, this Bill will ensure a strengthened legislative framework to respond to and manage biosecurity risk.

“The Commonwealth has worked in consultation State and Territory health departments through the cross-jurisdictional Chief Human Biosecurity Officer Forum in developing this Bill.”