Joint Media Release
The Hon Sussan Ley MP
Minister for Health
Minister for Aged Care
Minister for Sport
The Hon Barnaby Joyce MP
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources
9 January 2016
The busy holiday travel season is the perfect time to talk about the importance of protecting Australia against communicable diseases entering the country, Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, said today.
Ms Ley and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, today launched public consultation on subordinate legislation supporting the new Biosecurity Act 2015, due to come into effect in June 2016, relating specifically to human health.
“With borders as large, vast and busy as Australia’s, it’s important we are vigilant in protecting our population against the spread of pests and diseases that risk harming human health,” Ms Ley said.
“This is never more evident than during the Christmas-New Year period, when over 3 million people will arrive in Australia by air and sea throughout December and January.
“Over the past few years, the world has seen a rise in emerging diseases of serious health concern. This has been particularly highlighted by the recent outbreaks of diseases such as Ebola virus disease and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus.
“Australia has worked hard to prevent these diseases from emerging, establishing or spreading and this legislation will ensure our level of preparedness is enhanced.
“This is about putting in place sensible regulation striking the balance between ensuring Australia remains open for business without putting our longer-term health and prosperity at risk.”
Ms Ley said regulatory measures included a requirement that operators of aircraft and vessels provided contact information to be used for public health follow up, such as contact tracing, should a passenger be found to be infectious with a communicable disease whilst travelling.
The regulations also require that incoming aircraft must undertake disinsection measures to prevent the introduction of exotic vectors (pests) that may carry serious communicable diseases, such as yellow fever, and that are not natively found in Australia. Requirements for imposing human biosecurity control orders are also included.
The Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, encouraged all interested parties to have a say on the draft regulation for the First Points of Entry.
“The First Points of Entry regulation sets out the requirements for ports and landing places to be the first point of entry for people and goods into Australia to allow for better management of the biosecurity risks when people and goods arrive in the country,” Mr Joyce said.
“It also outlines the circumstances under which the first point of entry status can be changed or cancelled.
“This regulation establishes biosecurity release zones to reduce regulation at international mail centres and passenger terminals—making the system more flexible and efficient while managing biosecurity risk.
“We want to hear from port operators, shipping operators, international airlines and importers, in particular.
“The government wants to continue to engage in meaningful consultation over our new biosecurity legislation—all comments received will be considered in drafting the final regulations.”
The new Biosecurity Act 2015 replaces the Quarantine Act 1908 to provide a modern regulatory framework for the Australian Government to manage the risks of pests and diseases entering Australia and causing harm to human, animal, and plant health, the environment and the economy.
The Biosecurity Act 2015 will be co-administered by the Departments of Health and Agriculture & Water Resources.
Consultation on draft legislation is open for a period of 60 days. For more information on the exposure drafts and the consultation process, please visit the Human Health Provisions of the Biosecurity Act 2015 page .
Troy Bilsborough, 0427 063 150 (Minister Ley)
Gerard McManus, 0477 391 580 (Minister Joyce)