MP’s warning for online shoppers: do the right thing
THE impact of COVID-19 is expected to lead to an increase in online shopping and purchasing goods from overseas, but federal ministers are warning some goods may not be allowed into the country as they pose a biosecurity risk.
Minister for Agriculture, Water and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, said everyone must follow Australia’s biosecurity conditions when buying goods online from overseas and be confident that the seller is reliable.
“My department is preparing for a significant increase in international mail, as a result of the impacts of COVID-19 and the reduction in traveller numbers,” Minister Littleproud said.
“We already intercept a large volume of risk items at our mail centres each year, with more than 75,000 items of biosecurity concern intercepted across Australia in 2019.
“If you are considering buying goods online, ensure those goods are permitted, you are confident about their origin and the seller is reliable.”
Mr Littleproud said the best way to protect Australia’s biosecurity was to buy locally rather than overseas, in turn helping the nation’s economy.
“Items such as food, plants, seeds, meat and pet treats can be considered a biosecurity risk and may be seized and destroyed if they arrive at our mail centres,” he said.
“Seeds can carry viruses that could threaten our fruit and vegetable industry, while meat and pet treats can carry risks like African swine fever, which could devastate our pork industry.
“If you are considering purchasing food or seeds for sowing, remember that Australia has strong food security, producing enough food for 75 million people with a population of only 25 million.”
Mr Littleproud said the same rules apply if you are expecting to receive gifts or other goods in the mail from family and friends overseas, so has urged Australians to pass the message on.
“This is a challenging time, but by keeping these things in mind you can avoid wasting money and do your part to support Australia’s biosecurity,” he said.
Biosecurity officers, detector dogs and x-ray machines are in place at international mail centres to inspect incoming parcels. Goods that are deemed to pose a biosecurity risk are seized and destroyed, or they can be re-exported at the expense of the customer.
“Australia has strict conditions for the import of certain goods, including those purchased online. Some products require an import permit and others simply may not be permitted,” he said.
“If you are found to breach Australia’s biosecurity conditions when purchasing goods from overseas, you may be subject to an investigation and possible criminal prosecution.”
To learn more about buying goods online from outside Australia, visit biosecurity.gov.au/individual/online-shopper.