Joint media release: Unhappy New Year for those who break biosecurity laws

1 January 2021

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, the Hon. David Littleproud MP
Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon. Alex Hawke MP


From today, penalties have significantly increased for travellers who fail to declare high biosecurity risk goods at the Australian border. Expanded powers to cancel the visas of people bringing in these dangerous goods also came into effect. 

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, said biosecurity officers can now issue infringement notices for up to 12 penalty units ($2664), depending on the undeclared goods.

“Before today all infringement notices issued at ports were for two penalty units ($444), regardless of the biosecurity risk posed by undeclared goods.

“The Australian Government believes the penalty must fit the crime and that is why under the new legislation the Director of Biosecurity has determined which goods or classes of goods pose a high biosecurity risk for the purpose of higher infringement notice amounts. 

“We need everyone to get the message: Don’t be sorry – just declare it. If in doubt about whether you need to declare something, just declare it anyway.  Show all goods when a biosecurity officer asks what you are declaring.  People who declare goods will not be penalised, but travellers who don’t declare goods will be caught and issued with an infringement notice.”

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke said student and temporary work visas can be cancelled from today on biosecurity-related grounds. Previously, this discretionary cancellation ground only applied to visitor visas.

“The new powers are discretionary and only used for serious or deliberate breaches but will provide another important layer of protection at the border,” Minister Hawke said.

“Any decision to cancel a temporary visa on biosecurity grounds will only be made after the decision-maker takes into consideration factors such as the seriousness of the breach, impact on Australian business interests, links to the community and consequences for the individual,” Minister Hawke said.

“This government is serious about biosecurity and we will keep working to ensure the measures we have in place safeguard Australia from deadly pests and diseases now and into the future,” Minister Hawke said.

Before travelling to Australia, check what you need to do by visiting agriculture.gov.au/travelling/to-australia and immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/entering-and-leaving-australia/entering-australia

Goods and classes of goods that pose a high biosecurity risk are listed in the Biosecurity (2021 Infringement Notices) Determination 2020.

For information for students coming to Australia visit awe.gov.au/studying