News and Views

Tick of approval for Australian biosecurity legislation implementation

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has welcomed a report by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) that outlines the successful implementation of Australia’s new biosecurity legislation in 2016.

Deputy Secretary, Lyn O’Connell, said the commencement deadline of 16 June 2016 was met with trade unimpeded, biosecurity risk managed and our clients and staff well-positioned to understand and comply with the new legislation.

The report acknowledges the strength of the department in working with others to successfully implement the most significant legislation change in the department’s history.

“Implementing the Biosecurity Act involved years of writing the new laws, policy reform and changing the way we do things,” Ms O’Connell said.

“Many years of work went into developing the new laws and instructions for staff. The department also focused heavily on preparing our staff and systems for the smooth transition to the new legislation. Whilst it was a significant change for our people, it was also a significant event for the industry.

“Managing Australia’s biosecurity system is a big task and we rely on industry to work in partnership with us to help manage the risks so that Australia is appropriately protected from exotic pests and diseases.

“The comprehensive engagement between the department and industry ensured a smooth transition.

“The success of the implementation and engagement is reflected in the report and supported by industry members, many of whom have contacted me personally to acknowledge the professionalism and commitment displayed by departmental staff who provided valuable information, advice and training in the lead up to commencement.”

Executive Director, Stephen Morris, of the Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Council of Australia, said that the engagement and support, which included national information sessions with over 700 stakeholders, written communications and a tailored online e-Learning package provided by the department to industry members was an excellent example of how collaboration between industry and regulatory bodies can work effectively.

“The department should be congratulated on their level of engagement and the collaborative approach to implementing the new biosecurity legislation,” Mr Morris said.

According to Ms O’Connell, some of the essential work that helped maintain services and information access for clients during the legislative transition was largely invisible.

“It’s worth noting that the department trained more than 2,000 staff, wrote approximately 21,000 lines of code to modify IT systems, and updated more than 1,400 web pages and documents ahead of transitioning to the new legislation,” Ms O’Connell said.

“The report may not acknowledge some of these details, but it does acknowledge that the department’s implementation of the new legislation was successful.”