Risk-based approach to biosecurity

The Biosecurity Act 2014 (the Act) takes a risk-based approach to biosecurity threats and is less prescriptive than previous legislation. This allows greater flexibility and more responsive approaches to manage each specific circumstance.

The Act focuses on biosecurity risks that are, or are likely to become, a significant problem for human health, social amenity, the economy or the environment. A biosecurity risk exists when you deal with any pest, disease, weed or contaminant. This includes moving an animal, plant, turf, soil, machinery  and/or  equipment  that could carry a pest, disease, weed or contaminant.

The aim of risk-based decision making is to ensure that the steps taken to manage a biosecurity risk are effective and proportionate to the risk.

Reasonable and practical steps to manage biosecurity risks

To manage your biosecurity risks, you will need to take all reasonable and practical steps to prevent or minimise the risk. The steps you take may depend on:

  • the likelihood of the risk occurring (i.e. more action for a higher likelihood)
  • how serious the adverse impact could be (e.g. human deaths or extensive productivity loss)
  • what you know, or should reasonably be expected to know about the risk (e.g. how dangerous it is and how it is spread)
  • how to minimise the risk, including equipment and work practices
  • how effective a particular action would be in minimising the risk
  • feasibility and expense (e.g. is the cost proportionate to the risk).

Biosecurity Queensland will focus on providing education about reasonable and practical steps to minimise biosecurity risks. Information published by other reputable organisations could also help guide you in minimising biosecurity risks.

The precautionary principle

The Queensland Government will continue to take immediate action to manage biosecurity risks. The precautionary principle enables rapid responses to biosecurity emergencies.

Under the Act, the precautionary principle allows authorities to take initial action if there is a reasonable belief that a serious risk exists, without having to wait for scientific confirmation.