25 September 2023

New powers give Border Force an edge

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Personnel in the Australian Border Force (ABF) have received strong new powers to deal with travellers failing to declare plant and animal matter they bring into Australia.

In a joint statement, the Ministers for Agriculture and Immigration said the new powers could see inspection officers sending overseas travellers home immediately if their actions posed a serious to Australia’s agricultural biosecurity.

Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud said travellers failing to declare plant and animal matter they brought into Australia faced fines, possible criminal prosecution and-or court proceedings.

“Returning Australians who do the same will face penalties ranging from fines of up to $63,000 and up to five years in jail,” Mr Littleproud said.

“Our inspection officers are now able to send overseas travellers home immediately if they bring in a serious biosecurity risk to our agriculture, or if they’re a repeat offender trying to bring in banned items.”

He said people sent home would not be allowed to come back to Australia for three years with very few exceptions on compassionate grounds.

“If you fill out the forms honestly and declare what you’ve got, you’ll have no problem,” Mr Littleproud said.

Minister for Immigration, David Coleman said the ABF also now had strengthened cancellation powers to deal with a person detected with abhorrent items, such as child exploitation material or material that incited or advocated terrorism, crime or violence.

He said this included publications such as books, films, magazines, computer games and other written or pictorial matter.

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