A key principle of the new Biosecurity Act 2014 (the Act) is shared responsibility, i.e. all parties (governments, industries and individuals) are responsible for mitigating biosecurity risks. Where appropriate they should also share the cost of biosecurity responses.
The principle is formalised in the Act through:
- the general biosecurity obligation
- the requirement to consult with a broad range of stakeholders
- recognising agreements between government agencies and industry, as well as compliance agreements that identify the biosecurity responsibilities in Queensland
- the Act's compensation policy, which acknowledges that individuals and industries can proactively mitigate loss through insurance policies or by participating in government-industry agreements.
A regulation may state a way in which you must fulfill a biosecurity obligation. One way to meet this requirement is through an agreement that requires you to meet particular standards or procedures, and enables you to self-certify that you have carried out the agreed measures.
Government and industry agreements
The Act provides for the Minister or Chief Executive to enter into agreements with the Commonwealth or another state government, local governments, industries or natural resource management bodies. Agreements may include arrangements for responding to a biosecurity event sharing between the parties the costs related to a biosecurity event and details of how and when compensation is paid. This power allows for the recognition of the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA), the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD) and the National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement (NEBRA).
New third party accreditation
Interstate Certification Assurance (ICA) schemes have enabled businesses to issue Plant Health Assurance Certificates that are accepted by other Australian states and territories. Biosecurity inspectors have also inspected or supervised plant and animal treatments and issued certificates for the movement of produce.
The new Act will allow for both of these practices to continue, as well as allow for the appointment of external, accredited certifiers and auditors. The new Act will also allow for certification schemes to be established in other industries where appropriate. If you are an accredited certifier you can issue a Biosecurity Certificate under which you may be taken to comply with, or may be exempted from, particular requirements of the Act or of a corresponding interstate law about biosecurity matter.
Under the Act you can enter into a compliance agreement with the Chief Executive. Compliance agreements enable you to manage biosecurity risks in the absence of, or instead of, regulatory provisions. Anyone who applies for, or has entered into, a compliance agreement will be subject to auditing to assess compliance with the requirements of the agreement.