Ship importing used machinery turned back after biosecurity risk

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Cally DupeThe West Australian
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gen Biosecurity front line Marmorated stink bug Credit – Supplied
Camera Icongen Biosecurity front line Marmorated stink bug Credit – Supplied Credit: supplied

A ship carrying used machinery has been denied entry into Australia after the Federal Government deemed it a biosecurity risk for brown marmorated stink bug.

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment biosecurity and compliance deputy secretary Andrew Tongue said the ship was “immediately exported”.

“Our biosecurity import conditions are in place to protect our environment, our $66 billion agriculture industries and $47 billion agricultural exports,” Mr Tongue said.

“This consignment arrived at our borders and had to meet strict biosecurity import conditions that help manage the significant risk of brown marmorated stink bug.

“These biosecurity import conditions are designed to ensure that BMSB does not arrive in Australia and devastate our vegetable crops, ornamental trees and environment.

“The consignment did not meet the conditions, which require goods to treated offshore, and so the department directed the used machinery to be immediately exported.”

The ship’s refusal into Australia comes as new legislation upgrading penalties for breaking biosecurity laws passed Federal Parliament this month.

The updates to the Biosecurity Act 2015 includes a new $1.1 million fine — up from $444,000 — maximum for those obtaining a commercial advantage by breaking biosecurity laws surrounding non-prohibited goods.

Mr Tongue said the importer applied to the Federal Court to argue against the decision, but the application was dismissed by consent of the parties before it the matter heard.

“Our biosecurity import conditions are straightforward and are strictly enforced,” he said.

“If you don’t meet the conditions, your goods will not be coming in.

“If you try to breach Australia’s biosecurity import conditions, we also have strict penalties that can include fines up to $444,000 or 10 years’ jail time or both.

“Importers have a role to play in meeting Australia’s biosecurity objectives.

“It is important that anyone bringing goods to our country understands our biosecurity import conditions and follows them.”

This consignment arrived at our borders and had to meet strict biosecurity import conditions that help manage the significant risk of brown marmorated stink bug.

Andrew Tongue

The Federal Government ramped up its black marmorated stink bug surveillance in 2019-20 after detections and challenges “managing on board infestations” in 2018-19.

In response, it introduced the Vessel Seasonal Pest Scheme as an alternative vessel clearance pathway for roll-on, roll-off vessels.

A total 37 countries have been categorised as target risk for black marmorated stink bug, meaning high risk and risk goods are subject to intervention.

High risk goods include machinery and mechanical appliances, railway locomotives, wood, stone, and explosives, among other items.

To find out more about black marmorated stink bug, visit awe.gov.au/bmsb.

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