$5500 fine for traveller to Brisbane with plant seeds

Beef Central, 24/05/2023

Image: DAFF

A traveller has been stung by what the Department of Agriculture describes as Australia’s toughest biosecurity infringement to date, after attempting to bring plant seeds through Brisbane International Airport recently.

On May 5, an Australian passenger was found to be carrying seeds concealed within various items including a pamphlet, knitted baby clothing and tissues whilst entering the country.

The passenger is the first person to be issued with Australia’s new 20-point penalty infringement notice of $5,500 for deliberately concealing biosecurity risk materials. The Albanese Government introduced this new offence under the Biosecurity Act 2015 in December 2022 for those intentionally trying to circumvent our laws with concealed undeclared biosecurity goods.

Biosecurity officers inspected the passenger’s luggage, including 290g of seeds, 1g of tamarind seeds and 860g of bark for therapeutic use. These items were seized and destroyed.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt said biosecurity officers continue to crack down on travellers caught doing the wrong thing.

“This is exactly why our Government introduced these penalties – banned items can pose a serious risk to the agriculture industry and we make no apologies for coming down hard on people who gamble with our production value and food security,” Minister Watt said.

“To knowingly try to sneak items into Australia is extremely disappointing, and that’s why these penalties are the toughest we’ve seen to date.”

Seed for sowing can pose a major risk to Australia’s plant health status if they are not inspected and cleared by a biosecurity officer. Seeds can introduce unwanted weed species or exotic viral pathogens such as tobamoviruses that impact vegetable crops including melons, squash, tomatoes, potatoes, and capsicum.

The new 20-point infringement is in addition to increased financial penalties introduced on January 1 2023, which saw penalty units increase from $222 per penalty unit to $275 per penalty unit.

Source: Federal Department of Agriculture


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  1. John Wood, 26/05/2023

    The amount of people caught bringing food and plant matter into this country is getting out of control .
    There needs to be harsher penalties and or sent back on the next plane. Thee message doesn’t seem to get through to those caught.
    The cards that are filled out asking if food or plants are with them needs to be more to the point showing the fines and deportment can be the outcome

  2. Greg Popplewell, 24/05/2023

    I don’t think that fine is big enough

  3. Alex & Diana Cowlishaw, 24/05/2023

    If the Government needs more money for Biosecurity why not fine these people $10,000 for smuggling seeds, meat or any other products that could affect our primary industries which are so essential for sustaining our economy. And while doing that why not increase the penalty in the 20-point infringement to $500 not just by $50. Maybe this would discourage people from wanting to bring these products into Australia.

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