BILLS DIGEST NO. 4, 2023–24
25 July 2023

Biosecurity Amendment (Advanced Compliance Measures) Bill 2023


The Authors

Paula Pyburne

Key points

  • The Biosecurity Amendment (Advanced Compliance Measures) Bill 2023 (the Bill) amends the Biosecurity Act 2015 to enable the Director of Biosecurity to require each person within a class of persons who intend to enter, or enters, Australian territory on an incoming aircraft or vessel to provide information and/or produce a passport or other travel document in order to assess the level of biosecurity risk of the person and any goods that the person has with them, and for the future profiling, or future assessment, of biosecurity risks.
  • New civil penalty provisions are inserted into the Biosecurity Act which apply to persons who fail to comply with that requirement.
  • Where the Director of Biosecurity or the Director of Human Biosecurity gives notice to a biosecurity industry participant of a proposed variation to an approved arrangement, new procedural fairness provisions will apply to the industry participant.
  • The Bill increases the maximum penalty for a number of civil penalty provisions, some quite significantly.
  • The Bill also creates a number of strict liability offences which will be subject to the infringement notice framework which currently operates in the Biosecurity Act.
  • The Bill has been referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport for inquiry and report by 27 July 2023.

Date introduced: 21 June 2023

House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Commencement: the day after Royal Assent



Purpose of the Bill

The purpose of the Biosecurity Amendment (Advanced Compliance Measures) Bill 2023 (the Bill) is to update existing compliance measures in the Biosecurity Act 2015 to improve their operation in the evolving biosecurity environment.


Structure of the Bill

The Bill comprises 4 Schedules:

  • Schedule 1 amends Part 2 of Chapter 4 of the Biosecurity Act to improve assessment of the biosecurity risk of persons on incoming aircraft or vessels.
  • Schedule 2 amends Chapter 7 of the Biosecurity Act to insert new procedural fairness requirements in circumstances where it is proposed to vary an existing approved arrangement.
  • Schedule 3 increases existing civil penalties for failures to comply with certain requirements, directions or measures; and for giving false or misleading information or documents.
  • Schedule 4 creates a number of strict liability offences which will be subject to the existing infringement notice framework.


Australia’s approach to biosecurity risks

Australia’s response to biosecurity issues is based upon the requirements of the World Trade Organisation Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement)[1] and the World Health Organisation’s International Health Regulations 2005. The SPS Agreement requires countries to adopt the least trade restrictive quarantine barriers possible, but gives member countries the right to take sanitary and phytosanitary measures necessary to protect human, plant and animal life or health in their jurisdiction. Each Member country is entitled to set its appropriate level of protection (ALOP) as it sees fit, taking into account the full range of national interest considerations.[2] However, the SPS Agreement requires that those measures are scientifically based, non-discriminatory and consistently applied.[3]

The Biosecurity Act provides that the ALOP for Australia is a high level of sanitary and phytosanitary protection aimed at reducing biosecurity risks to a very low level, but not to zero.[4]

Compliance tools

The Biosecurity Act contains a number of requirements that entities travelling or bringing goods to Australia must comply with. These include:

  • entering Australia through designated areas[5]
  • providing accurate information about goods entering Australia[6]
  • not bringing prohibited goods to Australia[7] and
  • complying with specified conditions when importing goods or undertaking approved biosecurity risk management activities.[8]

Figure 1 Compliance Posture