Heavy Fine for Biosecurity Breaches

A Brisbane company and its director have been fined for offences relating to “dealing with landed cargo in quarantine” for imported containers of meat.

A Brisbane company and its director have been fined a total of $120,000 for biosecurity breaches associated with the transport and storage of imported uncooked pig meat.

The case was heard at Brisbane District Court last week with the director fined $20,000.00 and placed on a three-year good behaviour bond. The company was also fined $100,000.00.

They were found guilty of 76 separate offences relating to “dealing with landed cargo in quarantine” contrary to s44B(3) of the Quarantine Act 1908.

The company was required to transport the imported containers directly to an approved arrangement site or to the processing facility of the importer, to ensure effective biosecurity control was maintained. It was found that the containers were instead being stored at a non-approved site and in contravention of directions issued by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR).

DAWR claims that these actions could have exposed Australia’s agricultural industries, environment and the community to serious biosecurity risk. Pig meat can carry foot and mouth disease, which has the potential to cost Australia around $50 billion over a decade if it was to arrive here. It can also carry African swine fever (ASF) which has no known cure. While ASF is harmless to humans, it is currently spreading throughout Asia and Europe and is a major threat to our $5.3 billion pork industry.

The strong penalties handed down by the court have been welcomed by DAWR, who say it sends a clear message that breaches of Australia’s biosecurity conditions will not be tolerated. They reinforce that biosecurity directions are issued for a reason and importers, along with all those within supply chains, need to comply.

Information source: agriculture.gov.au/about/media-centre/media-releases