More visa cancellations for serious biosecurity breaches

Two more international visitors have been refused entry into Australia, this time for concealing and failing to declare live plants that could have put Australia’s $2 billion horticulture industry at risk.

Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie, said two Bangladeshi travellers who arrived at Perth airport on Sunday failed to declare 21 live plants, including four that were concealed.

“Four visa cancellations for biosecurity breaches in three weeks shows Australia will not tolerate people putting our world-class clean, green reputation at risk,” Minister McKenzie said.

“Our country is lucky to be free from many of the world’s most damaging plant pests that could have a significant environmental and economic impact if they arrived here.

“Live plants brought in through the airport can carry exotic plant pests and diseases that are capable of destroying our food production and agriculture industries, damaging our natural environment, and changing our way of life.

“This includes Xylella Fastidiosa, which has no cure and has had a catastrophic impact overseas.

“Xylella has infected more than 200 million citrus trees in Brazil, destroying 1 million olive trees in Italy and severely impacting the Californian grape sector causing annual losses in excess of US$100 million.

“The impact on Australian horticulture and the environment would be equally devastating.

“If established in Australia, Xylella’s potential cost to Australia’s grape and wine sector alone is estimated at up to $7.9 billion over 50 years.

“We have great local produce—everyone needs to do their part in ensuring we keep diseases that could threaten our agriculture industries out of Australia.

“This government is serious about biosecurity and we will keep working to ensure the measures we have in place safeguard Australia from deadly pests and diseases now and into the future.”

The passengers were issued two infringement notices (one per passenger) for alleged contraventions of subsection 532(1) of the Biosecurity Act – knowingly providing false or misleading information. Both travellers have had their visas cancelled. They are now in immigration detention, pending removal from Australia.

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