For the first time, an overseas visitor has been refused entry to Australia because of a serious biosecurity breach.

Member for Barker Tony Pasin said a 45 year old woman had her visitor’s visa cancelled when she arrived at the Sydney International Airport because she failed to declare about 10kg of food concealed in her luggage.

Mr Pasin said nearly half of the haul was (cooked and uncooked) pork.

“This is especially disturbing for our pork producers across Barker who contribute to the 36,000 jobs the pork industry underpins nationally,” Mr Pasin said.

“This cancellation shows that Australia won’t tolerate people putting our environment, industries, economy and way of life at risk.”

The passenger won’t be able to come back to Australia for three years.

African swine fever is a disease that kills about 80 per cent of the pigs it infects and there is no vaccine and no cure.

The disease is not present in Australia but it has been creeping closer to our doorstop.

“The Australian Government has been ramping up our biosecurity defences in line with the increasing risk,” Mr Pasin said.

“At the airport that means increased inspections of people and their luggage and at mail centres it means increased inspections of parcels.

“We’re taking these measures to safeguard our pork industry, our agricultural,” Mr Pasin said.

Minister McKenzie said people bringing in food, animal and plant products were threatening Australia’s $60 billion agricultural industries.

“Australian authorities won’t stand for it,” Minister McKenzie said.

“Ensuring strong borders means ensuring a strong biosecurity system to protect our international trade reputation as a leading supplier of safe, healthy, high-quality food.

“The punishment must fit the crime and that’s why we introduced this new legislation to cancel visitor visas when a passenger commits a significant biosecurity breach or repeatedly contravenes our biosecurity laws.

“Returning Australians who do the same could face criminal prosecution or civil court action. They could be ordered to pay up to $420,000 and be sentenced up to 10 years in jail.

“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.” Minister McKenzie said.

Media contact: Charlotte Edmunds 8531 2466