What is the Tasmanian Biosecurity Compendium?
Section 9 of the Biosecurity Act 2019 (the Act) requires the creation and publication of a Tasmanian Biosecurity Compendium (the Compendium) which contains the following:
a list of all prohibited matter;
a list of all permitted matter, including any conditions, requirements and restrictions applying in respect of the permitted matter;
a list of all restricted matter declared under section 21(2); and
any explanatory material or supporting information and material that the Secretary considers appropriate.
The Compendium must be made available to members of the public and be published as correct at that point in time on 1 July every year.
While section 9 does not refer to the publication of a list of all declared pests (including weeds) and diseases under the Biosecurity Regulations 2022 (the Regulations), these will also be included in the Compendium.
How are imports of plants and animals into Tasmania regulated under the new Biosecurity Act?
Biosecurity Act 2019 (the Act) introduces a new, consolidated legal framework for regulating the importation of plants, animals, and other material into Tasmania from interstate, and the management of them once they are here. With regards imports, the Act is only concerned with imports to Tasmania from other parts of Australia because regulation of imports of goods directly from overseas is a function of the Australian Government.
The Principal Act has three main list classifications relevant to importing:
permitted matter, and
restricted matter. All are listed in accordance with clearly expressed statutory criteria relating to biosecurity risk. Additional listing classifications occur through the Regulations.
These categories of matter represent a 'permitted list approach' whereby any animal or plant, animal product or plant product, or animal or plant disease that is not on either the permitted or prohibited lists is restricted from import by default and may only be imported to Tasmania under a permit. This is opposed to a 'prohibited list approach' whereby anything not on the prohibited list has unrestricted entry to Tasmania. A permitted list system has been used in relation to animal imports for more than two decades under the
Animal Health Act 1995, however it represents a new approach to regulating plant imports.
What are the listing classifications under the Biosecurity Act and Regulations?
The Act establishes the key definitions of “biosecurity matter" and “carrier".
Biosecurity matter includes any living thing, part of a living thing or product of a living thing (other than a human), or a disease or contaminant, or a disease agent that can cause disease. Examples include plants and plant products, seeds, animal products, insects (pests) and microorganisms.
Carrier means any thing or substance (living, dead or inanimate) that biosecurity matter might be contained within or on. Examples include plants or animals or related products and materials, vehicles, aircraft, vessels, agricultural equipment, soil, gravel, water, recreational equipment, shoes, and clothing.
Prohibited matter is biosecurity matter or carriers assessed to be of greatest biosecurity concern. For example, most List A pests and diseases (other than weeds) declared under Tasmania's old biosecurity legislation can be classed as prohibited matter under the new legislation. A person cannot possess or engage in any form of dealing with prohibited matter without a special permit – a
prohibited matter permit. Examples of prohibited matter include Queensland fruit fly and animal diseases such as foot and mouth disease and equine influenza.
Permitted matter is biosecurity matter assessed to be of least concern. It is assessed to not pose a biosecurity risk to Tasmania (or an acceptable risk that is manageable with conditions). Permitted matter is declared by formal notice in the Gazette following risk assessment. It can be brought into Tasmania without a permit so long as listing conditions (if any) relating to import and dealing with the matter are followed. A failure to conform to a listing condition or criteria will disqualify the relevant biosecurity matter from being considered permitted matter. This means it will revert to being restricted matter in respect to importation into the State. Examples of permitted matter include commercially canned and processed foods, dried nuts and commercially produced textiles and industrial products such as leather and treated timber.
Restricted matter is a catch-all which covers any plant or plant product, animal or animal product (or a plant or animal disease) that is not listed as either prohibited matter or permitted matter. The Minister may also declare carriers to be restricted matter in the same way that prohibited or permitted matter is declared. Restricted matter cannot be imported into Tasmania without a permit. Examples of non-animal/plant carriers declared to restricted matter are soil and restricted animal fittings such as used fish tanks.
Declared pests/disease is a fourth category of biosecurity matter established by the
Biosecurity Regulations 2022 (the Regulations) These are generally pests and animal/plant diseases (including declared weeds) which pose an elevated biosecurity risk and are known to be present in the State or are widespread in other parts of Australia but not Tasmania. The Regulations prescribe certain dealings with declared pests and disease (e.g. importing, supply and propagation) to be
which can only occur under a special
prohibited dealing permit. Examples of a declared pest include feral European rabbits, foxes, and declared weeds such as gorse and Spanish heath.
Summaries of the key elements of each of the listing classifications under the Act and the Regulations can be found at
Biosecurity Matter Listings.
Who is responsible for listing under the Biosecurity Act and Regulations?
The power to make listing declarations under the Act (including regulations made under the Act) lies with the Minister for Primary Industries and Water, who is to consider the advice of both
Chief Plant Protection Officer (CPPO) and the
Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) in respect of any declaration.
The Minister's functions may be delegated to the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania (NRE Tas) under
section 265 of the Act. The function to make listing declarations can be further subdelegated to a State Service officer or State Service employee.
The policy within NRE Tas is that any declaration of permitted, prohibited, restricted matter by a delegate of the Minister should normally be made by the CPPO or CVO, depending on which position is relevant to the listing (e.g., listing an animal disease would be the responsibility of the CVO to declare).
What are the risk criteria for the Biosecurity Act's list classifications?
Sections 19 to 21 of the Act, and regulation 4 of the Regulations, require the Minister (or delegate) to be satisfied on reasonable grounds that the biosecurity matter presents a degree of biosecurity risk (or in the case of permitted matter, very low or negligible risk with or without conditions in place).
Under the Act, a biosecurity risk is defined as the risk of a
“biosecurity impact" occurring. Biosecurity impact is defined in
section 11 and involves an adverse effect on the environment, community or economy arising from an event relating to biosecurity matter or carrier such as the introduction or spread of a pest or disease in Tasmania:
11. Meaning of biosecurity impact
(1) In this Act, biosecurity impact means an adverse effect on the environment, the community or the economy that arises, or has the potential to arise from any biosecurity matter or carrier, or a dealing with biosecurity matter or carrier, being an adverse effect that is a result of, or related to –
(a) the introduction, presence, spread or increase of an animal disease or plant disease into or within Tasmania or any part of Tasmania; or
(b) the introduction, presence, spread or increase of a pest into or within Tasmania or any part of Tasmania; or
(c) an animal or plant, or the product of any animal or plant, that is contaminated; or
(d) any thing, or circumstances, prescribed to have biosecurity impact.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1)(c), an animal or plant, or the product of an animal or plant, is contaminated if it contains a contaminant that makes, or is likely to make, the animal, plant or product –
(a) unfit or unsuitable for use in any commercial or other activity in which it would normally be used; or
(b) a risk to human health, human safety or the environment; or
(c) unfit for export or other trade for which it would normally be used.
A risk assessment is necessary to satisfy the decision-maker that there are reasonable grounds and scientific evidence to justify declaring biosecurity matter or a carrier under one of the four categories. Such an assessment should consider the likelihood of a biosecurity impact occurring as well as the consequences of that biosecurity impact to give an overall risk rating. Further, the risk assessment should determine whether there are management options or treatment conditions that would reduce the risk to an acceptable level.
What will happen to the lists and classifications under the old legislation being replaced by the Biosecurity Act?
The first declarations of
prohibited matter will include all those List A pests and diseases previously listed under old legislation (being replaced by the
Biosecurity Act 2019). Given List A pests and diseases were already classified in the highest risk category under the old legislation, they will be taken to have already satisfied the biosecurity risk threshold for classification as prohibited matter under the new Act.
Biosecurity Regulations 2022 has transitional provisions which provide that any –
declared weed within the meaning of the
Weed Management Act 1999; or
pest, List A pest or List B pest, all within the meaning of the
Plant Quarantine Act 1997; or
vermin within the meaning of the
Vermin Control Act 2000; or
noxious fish within the meaning of the
Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995; or
controlled fish within the meaning of the
Inland Fisheries Act 1995 –
that is in existence immediately before the commencement of the Regulations, and has not been declared prohibited matter, is taken to be a declared pest.
The Regulations also provide that any –
List A disease or
List B disease within the meaning of the
Animal Health Act 1995; and
disease, List A disease or
List B disease, all within the meaning of the
Plant Quarantine Act 1997 –
that is in existence immediately before the commencement of the Regulations, and has not been declared prohibited matter, is taken to be a declared disease.
Do the same requirements in the Plant Biosecurity Manual relating to plant imports still operate under the new Biosecurity Act?
Yes. In practice, the same import requirements can apply under the new Act as those which were previously imposed on plant importers under section 68 of the
Plant Quarantine Act 1997 (PQA), and as conditions of exemptions granted under section 99 of the PQA.
All plants, plant products, and carriers such as soil that are classified as restricted matter under the Act can only be imported into Tasmania from interstate under a permit, and in accordance with the conditions of the permit.
The two main types of permits (that can authorise imports of restricted matter into Tasmania) under the Act are:
individual permit – which is granted on a case-by-case basis to individual importers. These will most likely be used for imports of higher risk restricted matter that were previously authorised through exemptions granted under section 99 of the PQA; and
group permit – which is granted by the CPPO or Secretary of NRE Tas to a general class of persons, such as all importers of a specific class of plants and plant products. Group permits are issued by general publication on the NRE Tas website.
Both group and individual permits relating to plant imports should have the standard
condition that importers must comply with all relevant import requirements specified in the Plant Biosecurity Manual. This would include the requirement to lodge a notice of intent to import restricted matter, for the restricted matter to undergo inspections at a registered quarantine place, and the requirement for the importer to obtain a certificate of release in relation to the restricted matter before it can be released from quarantine.
Do the same requirements that applied to animal imports under the
Animal Health Act 1995 continue to apply under the new Biosecurity Act?
Yes. The Regulations include transitional provisions which provide that –
any permit or
special authority previously issued under the
Animal Health Act 1995
relating to importation of animals or animal material that was in force immediately before the commencement of the Regulations is taken to be an
that was granted under the Act (on the same terms and conditions); and
general authority relating to importation of animals or animal material issued under the
Animal Health Act 1995 that was in force immediately before the commencement of the Regulations is taken to be a
that was granted under the Act (on the same terms and conditions).
How do specified import requirements and conditions under the Biosecurity Act relate to the General Biosecurity Duty (GBD)?
The import requirements and conditions applying under the Act will be offences in their own right, and will also form part of the
general biosecurity duty (GBD) – as
specified biosecurity requirements.
Importing restricted matter without a permit is an offence under
section 75 of the Act. Failing to comply with any condition of a permit relating to the import of any biosecurity matter or carrier is an offence under
section 119 of the Act.
An importer will also be in breach of the GBD (an offence under
section 71 of the Act) if the person knowingly or negligently fails to comply with any specified import conditions or requirements relating to the import (i.e. the
specified biosecurity requirements). Furthermore, an importer can still be in breach of the GBD, even when all specified import conditions have been complied with, if the importer knowingly or negligently fails to take all other reasonable and practicable measures to prevent, eliminate or minimise the biosecurity risks posed by the importation.
Will there be public consultation on new listings under the Biosecurity Act?
Minimum requirements for consultation on new listings of biosecurity matter are stipulated within the Act and Regulations.
For permitted, prohibited and restricted matter,
section 23 directs the Minister to consult with the CPPO and CVO on proposed declarations.
For declarations of pests and diseases (which comprise mainly established weeds and vermin) there are more extensive consultation requirements which correspond with those which applied in respect of declared weeds under the
Weed Management Act 1999. The Regulations require any declaration to be preceded by a period of no less than 28 days during which the Minister will accept public comments and submissions on the proposed declaration. The Minister is to consider comments or submissions received as well as any advice of the CPPO and CVO on the proposed declaration before finalising it.
How will new biosecurity listings be communicated?
Given that staff within NRE TAS are likely to be given responsibility for undertaking risk analyses to support new listings, some internal communications will occur as a matter of course during that process however, prior to the CPPO or CVO publicly announcing an intention to declare new biosecurity matter, all staff within NRE TAS should be notified via email or other existing communication channels (such as weekly newsletters).
If there are existing obligations to report regulatory changes to other jurisdictions, this must also occur prior to any external communications.
While the obligation to publish declarations via Gazettal notice is a statutory requirement, the NRE Tas web page and associated communication channels (such as the e-advisory service) will also be used to communicate with interested parties on proposed new declarations of biosecurity matter.
A dedicated web page for proposed listings will provide background information and the basic rationale for the proposed listing, provide a completed draft risk analysis for review where necessary (ensuring commercial in confidence information is not revealed within) and provide an avenue for written submissions on new listings.
If significant submissions are received on a proposed listing, a response to those submissions will be provided on the same web page within 28 days of closure of the consultation period.
If there are stakeholder(s) that require targeted consultation, such as local government where declared weeds are concerned, they will be engaged with specifically prior to the consultation period.
What is the process for review and revocation of biosecurity listings?
Review of listings
As the Tasmanian Biosecurity Compendium must be made available to the public on 1 July every year, correct as at that point in time, the lists and explanatory material that make up the Compendium will be reviewed and updated annually.
Biosecurity Tasmania are responsible for ensuring that the Compendium is correct and up-to-date.
Revocation of listings
section 22(2) of the Act and regulation 4(6) of the Regulations, declarations of permitted, prohibited and restricted matter and declared pests and diseases cease to have effect:
on the date specified in the declaration notice; or
on the expiry of the period specified in the notice; or
if no such date or period is specified in the notice, on the revocation of the notice.
Where a declaration is to be revoked, a notice of the revocation will normally be published in the Gazette, specifying a period during which submissions may be made to the CPPO or CVO regarding the proposed revocation. Key stakeholders holding an interest in the biosecurity matter slated for revocation should be directly informed of the intention to revoke a declaration.
If regulation of biosecurity matter is found to be ineffective and/or no longer warranted and, providing removal of regulatory controls will not have a significant adverse impact, revocation of the declaration should be recommended.