For the first time, an overseas visitor has been refused entry to Australia because of a serious biosecurity breach.
Federal Member for Groom John McVeigh welcomed the tough stance to protect our biosecurity.
“A 45 year old woman had her visitor’s visa cancelled when she arrived at the Sydney International Airport because she failed to declare about 10kg of food concealed in her luggage,” Dr McVeigh said.
“Nearly half of the haul was cooked and uncooked pork.
“This is especially disturbing for our pork producers across Queensland and the Darling Downs who contribute to the 36,000 jobs the pork industry underpins nationally,” Dr McVeigh said.
“This cancellation shows that Australia won’t tolerate people putting our environment, industries, economy and way of life at risk.
“This passenger won’t be able to come back to Australia for three years.
“African swine fever is a disease that kills about 80 per cent of the pigs it infects and there is no vaccine and no cure.
“The disease is not present here but it has been creeping closer to our doorstop.
“The Australian Government has been ramping up our biosecurity defences in line with the increasing risk.
“At the airport that means increased inspections of people and their luggage and at mail centres it means increased inspections of parcels.
“We’re taking these measures to safeguard our pork industry, our agricultural industries and Darling Downs communities.”
Minister McKenzie said people bringing in food, animal and plant products were threatening Australia’s $60 billion agricultural industries.
“Australian authorities won’t stand for it,” Minister McKenzie said.
“Ensuring strong borders means ensuring a strong biosecurity system to protect our international trade reputation as a leading supplier of safe, healthy, high-quality food.
“The punishment must fit the crime and that’s why we introduced this new legislation to cancel visitor visas when a passenger commits a significant biosecurity breach or repeatedly contravenes our biosecurity laws.
“Returning Australians who do the same could face criminal prosecution or civil court action. They could be ordered to pay up to $420,000 and be sentenced up to 10 years in jail.
“This government is serious about biosecurity and we will keep working to ensure the measures we have in place safeguard Australia from deadly pests and diseases now and into the future.”