A man traveling from overseas has been fined $2,664 and had his visa canceled after trying to smuggle 13 pounds of meat products through Perth airport.
The international traveler had arrived at Perth airport from a country known to have foot-and-mouth disease on October 18.
Australian biosecurity officers discovered the undeclared meat during a baggage inspection.
The undisclosed meat included six pounds of duck, three pounds of rendang beef, over 500g of frozen beef and nearly 900g of chicken concealed in the man’s luggage.
The man answered ‘no’ on his incoming passenger card when asked if he was bringing meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy, fruit or vegetables in Australia.
Failure to disclose food products is a serious breach of Australian biosecurity laws.
These laws are designed to prevent the possible spread of diseases devastating to biosecurity such as foot-and-mouth disease or African swine fever.
Foot-and-mouth disease does not affect humans but is highly transmissible and causes sores and lameness in cattle, sheep, goats and other cloven-hoofed animals.
Home Secretary Clare O’Neil said the traveler had his visa canceled by Australian Border Force (ABF) officers after biosecurity officers found the items.
“That’s why legislation is in place to cancel the visa of any traveler who commits a material biosecurity violation or repeatedly breaks biosecurity laws,” Ms O’Neil said.
Travelers whose visas are canceled are returned from Australia on the first available flight and may face a three-year debarment period before they can reapply for a visa.
Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Murray Watt said the Australian government had introduced tougher laws to ban meat products for personal use from countries affected by foot-and-mouth disease.
“These types of products pose a major risk of introducing foodborne and oral diseases into Australia, and that’s why we make no apologies for our stringent biosecurity measures,” Mr Watt said.
“The traveler breached section 533(1) of the Biosecurity Act 2015 by knowingly providing a false or misleading document (the incoming passenger card) to a biosecurity officer upon arrival in Australia.
“This is a very serious offense and this traveler has been hit with the toughest penalties available to us.”
Mr Watt said that if the banned products had made it past ABF officers, they could have posed a potential biosecurity risk harmful to Australia’s agricultural industries.
“The actions of Biosecurity Officers and the ABF at the border have once again protected the Australian community and our agricultural sector from harmful biosecurity risks that have the potential to cause enormous damage,” he said.
“Strict enforcement of our borders ensures a strong biosecurity system to protect our international business reputation as a leading supplier of safe, wholesome and high quality food.
“All travelers must openly and honestly declare food products upon arrival in Australia so that biosecurity officers can inspect the items and assess the biosecurity risk.
“If the goods are allowed to enter Australia, they will be returned to the traveller.
“However, if they fail to declare the risky items, they will be caught and penalized.”
The Australian Government also plans to establish a new North Australian Coordination Network to help manage the threat of lumpy skin disease and foot and mouth disease.