Two Canberra men appeared before the ACT Supreme Court on 2 July after falsifying documents to import nutritional food products into Australia.
Both individuals were sentenced, with one individual receiving an 11-month term of imprisonment, wholly suspended for two years on a good behaviour order, in addition to 200 hours of community service. The other individual was placed on a 15-month good behaviour order and was sentenced to 100 hours of community service.
Head of Biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Andrew Tongue, welcomed the strong penalties handed down by the court.
“Falsification of documents hides the true content of imported goods from Commonwealth Officials, ultimately misleads consumers and exposes Australia’s agricultural industries, environment and the community to serious biosecurity risk,” Mr Tongue said.
“The two men lied to the department to bypass certain import requirements of the Biosecurity Act 2015 and the Imported Food Control Act 1992.
“Based on the falsified documents, imports were approved which would otherwise have not been released due to the unacceptable biosecurity risk.
“These products also require a veterinary or health certificate from the country of origin, certificates never received for these products.
“The products contained dairy which could potentially carry foot and mouth disease.
“Foot and mouth disease is a highly contagious virus disease of animals and one of the most serious livestock diseases.
“Australia estimates that a small outbreak, controlled in 3 months, could cost around $ 7.1 billion, while a large 12-month outbreak would cost $16 billion.
“Biosecurity directions are issued for a reason. Importers and those within supply chains must comply.
“Anyone who puts Australia’s biosecurity, food safety and market access at risk should feel the full force of the law in a manner that reflects the seriousness of their actions.
“It sends a clear message that breaches of Australia’s import conditions will not be tolerated.”