Biosecurity reforms squandered

Media Release |
The passage of the Biosecurity Bill through the Senate today marks a squandered reform opportunity and a refusal by both major parties to address deficiencies that would stem the flow of dangerous invasive species into Australia.

“Labor and the Coalition have failed to create the strong biosecurity laws Australia needs, ignoring stakeholders and much of the Beale review,” Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said today.

“Throughout the six year development of the Bill first Labor, then the Coalition, paid little attention to concerns raised by environmental and industry stakeholders. There was no substantive change since a 2012 exposure draft.

“Labor and the Coalition then refused to consider amendments in the Senate this week that would have substantially improved the Biosecurity Bill.

“Based on past performance, assurances that concerns will be addressed in the Bill’s regulations to be developed over the next year provide little comfort,” Mr Cox said.

“While there are positive steps, such as the regulation of ship ballast water and a statutory Inspector General of Biosecurity, the law does not provide the biosecurity safety net needed to stop the continued flow of devastating new invasive species such as the red imported fire ant, yellow crazy ant, myrtle rust and Asian honeybee outbreaks seen in recent times.

“These impose major costs on the environment, our economy and our way of life.

“Important structural reforms proposed by the Beale biosecurity review were rejected, such as an independent biosecurity authority to ensure decisions are made independently of government and based on scientific expertise.

“Amendments seeking improved transparency, reporting, the use of science, community participation and accountability were also ignored. The Bill’s flawed definition of the environment will inadvertently protect exotic ecosystems.”

Under development since 2010, the Biosecurity Bill 2014 will replace the 1908 Quarantine Act. It has broad powers to regulate the entry of vessels and goods into Australia and respond to biosecurity emergencies.

The Bill originated from the 2008 Beale review of biosecurity in the wake of the equine influenza outbreak.

More info


Andrew Cox on 0438 588 040.

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