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Australia introduces new quarantine measures

Amendments to the (Australian) Quarantine Act will help modernise the scope and focus of Australia's quarantine efforts, the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, announced today.

"The Quarantine Amendment Act 1999 reflects the Government's view that quarantine is a shared responsibility between industry, government and the general public," Mr Truss said.

"The amendments also demonstrate the Government’s commitment to protecting Australia’s multi-billion dollar agricultural, fishing and forestry industries and our unique natural environment."

Mr Truss said the changes are part of a package of improvements to quarantine legislation made by the Coalition Government in response to the wide-ranging recommendations of the 1996 review of Australian quarantine, including:

* improved reporting arrangements covering vessels and aircraft;
* a new section covering the high risks associated with packaging materials;
* amendments to enable better emergency responses to diseases or pests;
* a comprehensive framework for managing commercial quarantine premises;
* new flexible powers in relation to ordering quarantine treatments;
* new powers to declare special quarantine zones ensuring greater flexibility in dealing with quarantine matters in particular areas;
* recognising the role of detector dogs in assisting quarantine officers in border activities; and
* revision of the offence and penalty provisions.

"The Amendment Act provides a framework for protecting our agricultural industries and environment through a comprehensive, but flexible approach to pre-border, border and post-border measures," Mr Truss said.

"To ensure the new measures are implemented smoothly, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) will be running an information program and also providing comprehensive training to quarantine staff."

For more information, there is a fact sheet on the AQIS web site at www.aqis.gov.au

Further inquiries -
Minister's office: Andrew Hall (02) 6277 7520
23 June 2000 AFFA00/118WT

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