Output 6: Quarantine and Export Services
The department delivers Output 6 through the Australian Quarantine and Inspection
• Support Australian quarantine integrity through appropriate border control and
post-entry quarantine arrangements.
• Continue to implement and administer quarantine controls at Australia’s borders
to minimise risk, and respond to potential quarantine threats.
• Maintain the integrity of Australia’s export certification system by providing
export inspection, auditing and verification services to ensure compliance with
importing country requirements.
• Raise awareness of quarantine and export requirements and promote compliance
• Take a partnership approach with stakeholders to deliver a high level of service
and to support the international regulatory framework that governs trade between
• Maintain export market access for Australian agricultural and food products by
providing certification services.
• AQIS officers deployed to assist Callinan inquiry into equine influenza outbreak.
• Continuing access to overseas markets enabled after audits by United States,
European Union, Russia, Taiwan and Indonesia.
• Five additional export meat establishments gained access to Chinese market.
• Supervised Halal Program facilitated market access for meat products to Muslim
• Gained United States recognition of Australian systems for managing
contamination in ground beef.
• Australian Fumigation Accreditation Scheme won Ozone Layer Protection Award
for reducing methyl bromide use.
• Phase 1 of ICON ePermits project delivered, allowing online lodgment of
applications for import permits.
• National Coordination Centre for Entry Management established in Adelaide.
• Significant detection and control of exotic pests and diseases by Northern
Australia Quarantine program.
• Indigenous communities engaged for pest and disease surveillance across coastal
• Avian influenza surveillance and reporting program implemented in Papua New
Following the outbreak of equine influenza in August 2007, AQIS officers assisted
the commission of inquiry (the Callinan inquiry) established to investigate the
outbreak. After the Australian Government accepted the recommendations of the
inquiry, AQIS reviewed and amended its procedures for biosecurity at quarantine
stations and for the quarantine clearance of horses (see box, ‘Quarantine and
biosecurity strengthened after equine influenza outbreak’, p. 164).
During 2007–08, AQIS continued to support Australian quarantine integrity by
providing border control arrangements for incoming passengers, cargo, mail, aircraft
and ships, and through post-entry plant and animal quarantine arrangements.
AQIS quarantine programs maintained strong links and partnerships with the
Australian importing industry, with other Australian and state government
stakeholders, and with the Australian community in order to support positive
‘AQIS ant’—an AQIS officer performing an Asian gypsy moth inspection in the hold of a cargo
vessel (photo: Melissa Willmot, AQIS Brisbane)
To further increase capacity to support effective quarantine decisions, AQIS
quarantine programs implemented a structured approach to developing instructional
material, training, review and improvement of business processes, and verification.
Information technology systems are being developed to support the approach.
During 2007–08, AQIS conducted quarantine clearance of:
• over 12 million arriving passengers at international airports
• the external surfaces of over 1.8 million sea cargo containers
• over 2.4 million high-volume, low-value air cargo items
• the external surfaces of more than 360 000 air cargo containers
• over 13 500 incoming sea vessels
• more than 130 million incoming mail items.
AQIS made over 480 000 seizures at international airports and more than 100 000
seizures at international mail centres.
Special quarantine clearances during 2007–08 included those required for major
military exercises (Talisman Sabre 2007, Southern Frontier, Exercise Kakadu and
Pitch Black) and the APEC Summit:
• Talisman Sabre—deployed 24 staff in 5 countries to clear 13 000 crew on
• Southern Frontier—cleared 500 crew on 24 jets and cargo planes
• Exercise Kakadu—cleared 1500 crew in a six-week period, involving 10 ships
from 10 countries
• APEC Summit—airport clearances of 4000 participants in the summit included 21
world leaders, 350 business leaders and 42 trade and foreign ministers from 20
The Operational Science Program continued its work with CSIRO to implement a
remote diagnostic service in regional offices and remote AQIS sites. The system
allows rapid preliminary identification of insect pests intercepted at those sites,
improving efficiency and reducing delays and unnecessary fumigation treatments.
A National Coordination Centre for Entry Management was established in Adelaide
to process outstanding quarantine entries and finalise treatment directions to be
implemented by treatment services. The National Coordination Centre has focused on
improving national consistency of entry management activities such as the national
finalisation of treatment releases for fumigators on compliance agreements and the
initial, subsequent and final processing of all imported pigmeat entries.
AQIS implemented an AusAID-funded avian influenza surveillance and reporting
program in Papua New Guinea to increase that country’s capacity to detect and report
highly pathogenic avian influenza or other exotic diseases. Over 200 villagers from
Western and Sandaun provinces were trained.
Quarantine and biosecurity strengthened after equine
Since the outbreak of equine influenza in August 2007, the Australian Quarantine and
Inspection Service, with advice from Biosecurity Australia, has strengthened
quarantine and biosecurity arrangements at quarantine stations and introduced new
arrangements for the quarantine clearance of horses.
Quarantine stations have introduced:
• 24-hour security and AQIS presence
• foot baths for washing footwear on entry and exit
• mandatory shower-in and shower-out
• the use of AQIS-supplied protective clothing where required
• stricter management and processing of bloods and other samples collected from
horses in quarantine.
The tighter quarantine arrangements for horses have been incorporated into revised
instructional material. Revised standard operating procedures include the additional
measures for quarantine stations and closer management of horses arriving at airports.
The new instructions were finalised in early December 2007 and distributed to AQIS
staff, who were directed to follow the revised procedures. An audit of compliance has
verified that all staff are applying the procedures in Melbourne and Sydney—the two
ports of entry for horses.
To reinforce on-the-job training, a training package on the new procedures was
completed in March 2008. The package is now being delivered as mandatory
technical training for AQIS staff involved in horse imports.
The new procedures required an increase in AQIS resourcing for the clearance of
consignments of live horses and for quarantine. To reinforce Australia’s requirements,
AQIS also arranged for the department’s agricultural counsellors to visit pre-export
quarantine facilities in all countries exporting horses to Australia.
After the release of the Equine Influenza Inquiry’s report and the Australian
Government’s response on 12 June 2007, AQIS developed an implementation plan.
The plan, which was finalised in July 2008, outlines all the deliverables to be
achieved to give effect to the government’s response.
See also ‘Special report: Equine Influenza Inquiry’, p. 8.
Export services and access
We maintain the integrity of Australia’s export certification system by providing
export inspection, auditing and verification services. This ensures compliance with
importing country requirements by the meat, horticulture, grain, fish, dairy, live
animal exports and organic industries.
Maintaining export certification system integrity
The AQIS Exports Division expanded its activities in 2007–08 to conduct verification
of all export programs. This included the assessment of organisations providing audit
and inspection services on behalf of AQIS and their compliance with agreements and
memorandums of understanding.
Verification work in 2008–09 will include a strong focus on certification systems,
including declarations and documentation.
The Fish Exports Program and Dairy Exports Program developed new export
certificates for a range of markets, thereby ensuring ongoing market access.
The Organic and Bio-dynamic Program strengthened systems for the verification and
reporting of approved certifying bodies, and the organic produce certification
documentation issued by them.
The Grain and Plant Products Export Program strengthened auditing of phytosanitary
certificates and the management of audits of approved arrangements as part of our
response to the Australian National Audit Office’s 2006–07 audit of AQIS export
certification. The program was also subject to an audit by the AQIS Verification Unit.
During 2007–08, the program finalised amendments to the Export Control (Plants and
Plant Products) Orders to incorporate the requirements for mung beans.
The Horticulture Export Program ensured consistent and efficient application of AQIS
systems and legislative requirements by auditing and verifying inspections, sampling,
documentation, EXDOC and charging systems.
We conducted audits of regional certification systems throughout the year, and
accompanied Taiwanese auditors who visited Tasmania to audit apple export systems,
and Japanese auditors who verified fruit fly area freedom before approving exports
from the Sunraysia region.
Five additional export meat establishments gained access to the Chinese market after
a review by Chinese auditors in November–December 2006. An E. coli O157:H7
testing protocol was implemented to meet the United States Food Safety Inspection
Service’s requirements for export meat industry access to the United States.
We also developed capacity for electronic issue of export certificates for eggs and egg
Providing export inspection, auditing and verification services
The AQIS Exports Division Verification Unit conducted audits of export programs to
assess the adequacy of their systems to manage compliance with audit and inspection
schedules and procedures. The audits identified potential areas for system
improvement, which the programs are now considering.
AQIS continued its Multi-commodity Project, which was initiated in 2006 to provide
a framework for a single process covering multicommodity food export
establishments. We expect the new framework to eliminate or reduce duplication of
AQIS auditing, streamline the documentation of approved arrangements, increase
consistency between commodities, and potentially reduce fees and charges to
We developed residue monitoring plans with the National Residue Survey and
industry to meet European Commission requirements for exports of meat, dairy,
aquaculture and honey products. The plans will also support access to other important
The Fish Exports Program developed guidelines on compliance with European
Commission requirements for fish establishments, and audited fishing vessels and
establishments against the guidelines to maintain market access. During the year,
33 129 certificates were issued for fish and fish products, 707 certificates for eggs and
egg products, and 7500 certificates for other miscellaneous food products.
The Dairy Exports Program also developed guidelines on compliance with European
Commission requirements for dairy establishments and conducted information
sessions for industry. A total of 25 668 certificates were issued for around
$2.53 billion worth of dairy products.
The Organic and Bio-dynamic Program verified the compliance of AQIS-approved
certification organisations through auditing their management systems and inspection
The Grain and Plant Products Export Program managed the Australian Wood
Packaging Certification Scheme for exports to meet Australia’s obligations under the
international standard for wood packaging. During 2007–08, 29 additional facilities
were certified under the scheme, bringing the total to 201.
The Horticulture Export Program issued 19 279 phytosanitary certificates for the
export of fresh fruit and vegetables, nursery stock, fresh and dried flowers and dried
Awareness of quarantine and export requirements
AQIS raised awareness of quarantine and export requirements and increased
compliance by communicating directly with Australian individuals and businesses,
and overseas residents travelling to or trading with Australia.
Phase III of the Quarantine Matters! communication campaign continued to increase
awareness of Australian quarantine requirements. The campaign uses mainstream
television and press advertising, inflight videos, airport signage, media liaison and
special events, such as travel shows and multicultural festivals.
Market tracking research conducted in December 2007 showed that campaign
awareness levels remain high. Two-thirds of Australians over the age of 18 years have
seen the Quarantine Matters! campaign, and high levels of ‘intention to declare’ have
been maintained. Research also showed that around 75% of this group feel quite well
or very well informed about the items that need to be declared when entering
AQIS also implemented public awareness strategies to promote passenger awareness
of quarantined freshwater pests, including Didymo diatoms. The strategies, including
changes to the incoming passenger card and upgrades to signage at airports, aim to
increase declarations of risk items.
Our work to strengthen communication with organisations that provide audit services
to the Exports Division included verification auditing (for example, of halal
certification bodies, state regulatory authorities and AUSMEAT) and continuing
consultations with our industry consultative committees.
By way of example, work with horticulture industry stakeholders included working
groups and meetings with exporters, growers and packhouses to supply information
on how to meet importing country requirements:
• mango pre-season meetings in Brisbane in July 2007 on export certification
requirements for Malaysia, Japan, and new markets in Korea and China
• citrus pre-season meetings in the Riverland (South Australia), Sunraysia
(Victoria), the Riverina (New South Wales) and Gayndah (Queensland) from
January to March 2008 to discuss rejections of consignments at inspection and
overseas, and export requirements for China, Japan, Thailand, Korea, Taiwan and
the United States.
AQIS continued to increase public awareness of the importance of quarantine through
publications, the AQIS website and targeted public awareness communication
Six editions of the AQIS Bulletin, highlighting operational and legislative news
relevant to AQIS clients and stakeholders, were published. The bulletin was sent out
to more than 4700 subscribers during the year (2006–07: 3200 subscribers), and more
than 2000 people read the online version.
The AQIS website (www.aqis.gov.au) had an average of 3117 visitors per day (2006–
07: 3312 visits), or more than 1.14 million visits for the year. The most popular pages
contained information about importing dogs and cats, other importing information,
information about what cannot be brought into Australia, and jobs with AQIS.
In 2007–08, AQIS distributed more than 900 000 travel brochures in 17 languages
and 1.2 million mail information brochures in 16 languages. AQIS also distributed
more than 280 000 travel destination guides (published in conjunction with Lonely
Planet and containing quarantine and other important Australian Government advice)
for 11 different overseas destinations.
AQIS continued to provide support for the popular commercial television series
Border Security to raise the profile of quarantine. The show once again was among
Australia’s highest rating, with up to two million viewers per episode.
The Quarantine Top Watch! public awareness campaign, which supports the work of
AQIS’s Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy, continued to increase quarantine
awareness among residents and visitors to northern Australia, from Broome in the
west to Cairns and the Torres Strait in the east. During the year, the campaign
produced and distributed more than 17 000 calendars to mainland and Torres Strait
residents. Other quarantine-awareness material produced included Horn Island
Airport advertising banners, special quarantine laws cards and posters, other banners,
Visiting the Torres Strait brochures, aircraft seat inserts, and supporting merchandise,
including caps, pannikins and footballs.
Regional public awareness staff attended a number of community events, which also
supported the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy. The events included the Croc
Festival on Thursday Island, the National Weeds Conference in Cairns, the North
West Expo in Broome, the Top End Science Fair and the Darwin Show.
The annual Quarantine Awards once again acknowledged individuals, community
groups and organisations who contributed to Australian quarantine and biosecurity
management. The awards are judged by the Quarantine and Exports Advisory Council
in conjunction with AQIS. The prestigious National Quarantine Award is usually
given to one of eight regional award winners from the states and territories.
In 2007 there were two joint winners of the National Quarantine Award:
• eBay Australia, for its investment and cooperation with AQIS to establish online
warning messages to potential customers about the importation of goods of
• the Torres Strait Islanders Media Association, for its role in educating residents
about quarantine requirements (the community radio station’s weekly quarantine
broadcast is its longest running regular segment, and reinforces quarantine
messages in a culturally relevant way).
The Centenary of Quarantine began officially in March 2008. So far, a number of
national and regional events have marked the centenary, including an exhibition at the
National Museum of Australia in December. The exhibition is now also touring the
states. We also worked with the Royal Australian Mint, which released a special
$1 coin in May 2008 to celebrate the centenary. The coin design features a luggage
bag shaped as Australia and a beagle detector dog on duty.
Logo, stamp and coin designs for Centenary of Quarantine, 1908–2008
In late 2006, AQIS Compliance and Investigations Unit began working with eBay to
prevent high-risk quarantine material, purchased through eBay, being imported
contrary to Australia’s quarantine requirements.
In 2007–08, eBay developed and installed a variety of warning screens that present
AQIS messages to potential buyers in Australia who attempt to bid on or purchase
items outside Australia listed on the eBay website (see above).
We are continuing to work with eBay on commodity-targeting during specific
cultural, religious or festive events, and on making a global AQIS quarantine message
for all eBay host countries.
Quarantine programs also work closely with importing industries to provide advice on
quarantine requirements. Updates to specific arrangements for particular commodities
are provided through alert notices issued in the Import Conditions (ICON) Database.
AQIS issues Import Clearance Notices to Industry to advise of changes to procedures,
the introduction of new fees or charges, and updates to particular treatments or
AQIS issues industry advice notices (IANs) to provide information on importing
country requirements and changes in operational procedures. In 2007–08, we
distributed a range of IANs for exporters of grain and plant, horticultural, fish, dairy
and meat products. AQIS also issued ‘Meat News Updates’, e-bulletins and market
access notices to inform industry of progress in market access issues.
The Horticulture Export Program developed and maintained work plans for specific
commodities and countries, and maintained the PHYTO and EXDOC databases.
PHYTO is AQIS’s plant and product export conditions database containing
information about the conditions to export plants and plant products, including fruit,
vegetables, seeds, grains, cut flowers and timber from Australia. It is a simple and
convenient reference tool detailing the requirement for import permits, phytosanitary
certificates, additional declarations and/or treatments, and also any other relevant
export information and documentation. EXDOC is the AQIS Electronic Export
Documentation System; its purpose is to electronically process and produce
government-to-government documentation required for the export of prescribed
AQIS continued to engage with industry groups to develop and promote strategies to
encourage compliant behaviour. Examples include the development of the Express
Path process at airports, and the use of co-regulatory accreditation schemes for
Table 15 shows AQIS consultative and advisory groups and their meetings in 2007–
Table 15 AQIS consultative and advisory committees and groups, 2007–08
Committee/group and Significant achievements
meetings during year
AQIS – Grain Industry Agreed to reform the committee as a whole-of-department consultative
Consultative Committee committee for the grain and plant products export and import industries.
August, November 2007;
AQIS – Aviation Industry Endorsed the campaign to raise awareness of Didymo diatoms among
Consultative Committee travellers, which allows lower risk frequent travellers to exit airports more
March 2008 quickly, while maintaining quarantine inspection requirements.
AQIS continued to participate in the Passenger Facilitation Taskforce, which
explores strategies to reduce the impact of new airports and increasing
passenger numbers on Australia’s border agencies.
AQIS worked closely with industry and Customs to implement the Express
Path system, which maintains quarantine inspection requirements while
allowing compliant frequent travellers to exit the airport more quickly.
Seafood Exports Following a merit selection process, a new committee was selected to
Consultative Committee represent the seafood industry for the next three years.
November 2007, May 2008 Agreed to strategy for management of follow-up from European Commission
audit in 2007.
Supported Fish Exports Program management of approved arrangements.
Agreed on structure of national residue surveys to comply with European
Dairy Export Industry Focused on service delivery models, importing country audits and legislative
Consultative Committee reviews.
October 2007, April 2008
AQIS – Halal Industry Introduced verification of halal certification bodies.
July 2007, February 2008
Committee/group and Significant achievements
meetings during year
AQIS–Biologicals Established the Veterinary Vaccine Subcommittee.
Consultative Group Reviewed specific issues affecting biologicals industry groups.
September 2007, April 2008 Provided industry with program updates.
AQIS–Industry Cargo Considered high-level strategic issues, including the Quarantine Operational
Consultative Committee Framework, Import Clearance Effectiveness project results, risk profiling and
August, December 2007; risk management, entry management processes, the review of quarantine, a
April 2008 review of import clearance quarantine service fees related to cost recovery,
and developments and achievements within the Australian Fumigation
Accreditation Scheme (AFAS).
Progressed entry management projects and systems to simplify and
streamline the quarantine entry of goods into Australia.
Export Meat Industry Agreed on policy for market access requirements, such as industry
Advisory Committee support/agreement on proposed AQIS submission to United States authorities
July, November 2007; after the US implementation of stringent microbiological testing requirements
March 2008 for imported meat products.
Horticulture Exports Defined the terms of reference for the committee.
Consultative Committee Established two new subcommittees for finance and operations.
Imported Food Consultative Established essential criteria for entering into a compliance agreement for
Committee food importers.
November 2007, April 2008
Livestock Export Industry Continued stakeholder consultation on a range of live animal export issues.
August, December 2007;
National Tripartite Developed a business continuity plan for quarantine and border agency
Consultative Committee activities at the Melbourne gateway facility. The plan will be modified for all
(Australia Post, Customs other international mail processing facilities.
and AQIS) Discussed and addressed technology enhancements at gateway facilities.
August, December 2007; Introduced an operations workshop forum, involving current national tripartite
April 2008 members and operational staff from each agency, to gain agreement on
arrangements for ensuring the effective and efficient screening, inspection,
treatment and clearance of all inbound mail presented each day.
Discussed border agency resource planning and modifications to current
business policies for intervention of inbound international mail.
Organic Industry Export Clarified responsibilities for issuing export certification on behalf of AQIS.
Consultative Committee Clarified interpretation of the National Standard of Organic and Bio-dynamic
November 2007, May 2008 Produce.
Considered the impact of the development of the Australian Standard for
Post Entry Plant Industry Discussed a range of post-entry quarantine issues, including strategies to
Consultative Committee increase the level of engagement of the nursery and garden industry in the
October 2007, April 2008 committee.
Appointed an industry co-chair to the committee to enhance industry
AQIS developed and maintained a partnership approach with stakeholders to deliver a
high level of service and support important elements in the international regulatory
framework for trade.
Partnering with stakeholders
In carrying out its quarantine functions, AQIS works closely with other border
agencies, industry stakeholders and the public to identify and intercept quarantine risk
In 2007–08, importing industry briefings on a range of cargo management initiatives
and activities were presented to over 450 industry members across Australia. AQIS
also worked closely with industry to improve suppliers’ operational practices to
conform to AQIS packing and cleanliness requirements.
AQIS works closely with other Australian Government agencies on quarantine
• the Department of Health and Ageing, which is responsible for human health
aspects of quarantine, and Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, who holds the
statutory position of Director of Human Quarantine
• The Australian Customs Service (Customs), which provides a range of services to
assist AQIS, including
civil maritime surveillance and response resources through Coastwatch
access to the Integrated Cargo System to identify goods of interest to AQIS
referral to AQIS of material prohibited under the Quarantine Act 1908 detected
during Customs inspections of incoming ships, aircraft, passengers, cargo and
provision of export data relating to permits issued by AQIS
sharing of relevant intelligence data with AQIS.
AQIS chairs the Food Exports Regulators Steering Committee, which includes all
state regulatory authorities and pursues a common goal of strengthening export
certification systems for food. During the year, the steering committee worked with
the export dairy sector to improve the current inspection and auditing framework and
thereby address matters raised by overseas reviewers.
AQIS continued to work with the Australian export meat industry through the
Strategic Initiatives Evaluation Group, which advises on and evaluates strategic
initiatives to maximise the industry’s potential. Current projects will identify
objective and measurable key performance indicators for export-registered meat
establishments, identify opportunities to improve ante- and post-mortem inspection
procedures, and provide options for alternative inspection models.
The Imported Foods Program drafted amendments to the Imported Food Control
Regulations and Imported Food Control Order to implement alternative inspection
arrangements with importers, as recommended by the National Competition Policy
and the Banks Review on Reducing Regulatory Burdens on Business.
The Grain and Plant Products Export Program worked in partnership with industry to
resolve issues relating to sampling and mandatory fumigation requirements.
AQIS continued to work with the Australian Meat Industry Council to investigate
objective and measurable performance indicators for export-registered meat
establishments and the export meat system, to examine ante-mortem and post-mortem
inspection procedures and to consider alternative inspection models. The aim is to
improve verification and certification efficiency. We expect preliminary findings to
be available by the end of 2008.
Our professional development program for on-plant veterinary staff, area technical
managers and meat inspection staff continued. This targeted program makes service
delivery more nationally consistent.
AQIS successfully trialled a meat inspector traineeship program, with the aim of
recruiting and training more meat inspectors to meet operational requirements and
further develop a professional workforce. The Export Meat Program continued its
strategy of raising awareness of the importance of veterinary involvement in public
health and the profile of the department as a potential employer of public health
veterinary officers through its liaison with university veterinary schools.
The rollout of broadband connectivity to AQIS meat program field staff is nearing
completion. Most sites have been upgraded, contributing to significant gains in
productivity. The rollout will be completed as the enabling technologies become
available to new and remote sites. We also made further gains in productivity by
deploying wireless computer connectivity (mobile on-the-job office) for field
AQIS participated in the development of the Australian Standard for Organic Produce
to ensure that export expectations are addressed while minimising the duplication of
standards for domestic and export systems.
Supporting the international regulatory framework
AQIS contributed significantly to Australia’s and the department’s participation in the
Codex Alimentarius Commission and its committees, ensuring that international
standards assist trade in Australia’s food, fisheries and agricultural products.
AQIS chaired the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and
Certification Systems, and Australia led a working group developing guidelines for
national food inspection systems. The guidelines will give countries a framework to
establish national inspection systems based on recognised principles, and benefit both
exporting and importing countries and international trade. The committee is also
progressing work on a standard template for export certificates and guidelines on the
conduct of foreign audits. The work on audit guidelines, which is being led by
Australia, should address the concerns of a number of exporting nations about
arbitrary and poorly designed and communicated audits of our systems by importing
AQIS officers also led Australia’s delegations to the Codex committees on milk and
milk products and on fish and fish products, and contributed to Australia’s position to
the Codex committees on residues of pesticides, veterinary drugs and contaminants,
methods of analysis and sampling, and organic produce and food in general.
In other work to support the international regulatory framework, the AQIS Grain and
Plant Products Export Program:
• met officials from Chile and India to provide information on AQIS’s role and
systems for plant export certification
• provided comment to Trade and Market Access Division (formerly International
Division) on Indonesia’s proposed food safety regulations
• provided comment to the Office of the Chief Plant Protection Officer on the
review of International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures relating to sampling
of consignments, methyl bromide standards and the international movement of
wood and forest tree species.
Funding was received from APEC to host an Australian Fumigation Accreditation
Scheme (AFAS) quarantine regulators meeting in March 2008. AFAS assists overseas
fumigators to use methyl bromide fumigation more efficiently to meet Australia’s
requirements for offshore fumigation of certain imports. The meeting focused on the
adoption of multilateral arrangements and the extension of AFAS to other quarantine
treatments (for example, heat treatment).
AFAS was presented with a United States Environmental Protection Agency Ozone
Layer Protection Award in May 2008 in Washington DC. The award recognised our
achievements in reducing the use of methyl bromide (see case study on page 180).
During 2007–08, AQIS also undertook substantial work to develop protocols relating
to possible pre-inspection arrangements for apples from New Zealand, and imports of
prawns and prawn products, following the completion of risk assessments for those
commodities by Biosecurity Australia.
AQIS continued to administer quarantine controls at Australia’s borders to minimise
the risk of exotic pest and disease incursions, and worked with industry and the
community to respond to potential quarantine threats.
Immediately after the outbreak of equine influenza in August 2007, officers from the
AQIS Compliance and Investigation Branch were deployed to investigate how the
virus might have escaped from a place or premises under quarantine control.
The Callinan inquiry began soon afterwards. Following agreement between the
department’s secretary and Commissioner Callinan, a number of Compliance and
Investigation staff were seconded to the inquiry. They interviewed witnesses, obtained
documents, analysed telephone records, and made fresh investigations as directed by
counsel assisting the inquiry.
The Callinan inquiry reported to the Australian Government in April 2008, and the
government issued its response to the inquiry in June 2008 (see ‘Special report:
Equine Influenza Inquiry’, p. 8).
AQIS is also assisting the Quarantine and Biosecurity Review, chaired by Roger
Beale AO, which is expected to report to government by the end of September 2008
(see box, ‘Quarantine and Biosecurity Review’, p. 176).
In 2007–08, AQIS activities to strengthen Australia’s pre-border pest and disease risk
management arrangements included:
• continuing implementation of AFAS
• enhanced pre-inspection arrangements for imported machinery and returning
• enhanced desk and site audits of plant-based stockfeed manufacturing, plants and
associated import pathways
• use of the International Standards on Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM 15) for wood
dunnage and packaging
• improved certification requirements for imported fertiliser shipments.
Several significant detections of exotic pests and diseases were made by the Northern
Australia Quarantine Strategy program in 2007–08, including:
• an exotic pig parasite (Setaria thomasi) transmitted by mosquitoes on Gabba
Island in Torres Strait
• mango gall midge in Torres Strait and Cape York Peninsula
• citrus leaf spot (Cryptosporiopsis citri Virginia) at Broome.
The detections were promptly reported to the responsible national and state authorities
for appropriate action.
Phase I of the Import Conditions (ICON) ePermits project was delivered in August
2007, allowing the public to lodge electronic applications for import permits. Since
implementation, around 30% of permits are now being applied for online (excluding
live animal permits that still require paper forms).
The AQIS Detector Dog Program continued to source trainee passive dogs (beagles)
mainly from the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture. Trainee active dogs
(labradors) were sourced mainly from the Australian Customs breeding program. We
trialled a range of dog deployment initiatives to better meet client detection and
After an open tender process for the supply, installation and maintenance of X-ray
systems, AQIS managed the transition to some 40 new X-ray machines in quarantine
operations at international airports and mail centres.
Quarantine and Biosecurity Review
On 19 February 2008, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry announced
a comprehensive, independent review of Australia’s quarantine and biosecurity
systems. The review is chaired by Roger Beale AO, a senior associate with the Allen
Consulting Group and a former secretary of the Department of the Environment and
Heritage, who is assisted by three other panel members. We are providing secretariat
services to the review.
The panel will review the operations of AQIS and Biosecurity Australia, and examine
risk assessments; quarantine intervention targets; import inspections and certification;
and the roles of governments and the community.
The Quarantine and Biosecurity Review will provide recommendations on the
appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency of:
• current arrangements to achieve Australia’s ‘appropriate level of protection’
• public communication, consultation and research and review processes
• resourcing levels and systems and their alignment with risk in delivering requisite
• governance and institutional arrangements to deliver biosecurity, quarantine and
export certification services.
The review will provide a final report, including recommendations, to the minister by
30 September 2008.
AQIS contributed significantly to negotiating Australia’s agreement with China on
certification and testing of dairy products, including infant formula. As a result of this
agreement, Chinese import authorities rationalised their import procedures for AQIS-
certified dairy products.
Our input led to the moderation of Thai microbiological standards for infant formula
and honey; the standards are either now in line with Codex standards or the Australia
New Zealand Food Standards Code, simplifying the measures that Australia’s
exporters must comply with.
We defended Australia’s export dairy systems following a review by the European
Commission Food and Veterinary Office, which led to the acceptance of our systems.
We finalised negotiations of new export certificates for fish products to Croatia and
Ukraine, for exports of egg products to Hong Kong and Vietnam, and for dairy
products to Brazil.
Australia managed to maintain market access for prawns to Europe, despite natural
levels of cadmium in Australian prawns sometimes exceeding the European
regulatory level. The European Commission is considering a submission from AQIS
seeking to rescind or raise the regulatory limit for cadmium in prawns.
We have marketed the Australian Government’s Supervised Halal Program into a
number of countries, facilitating access for Australian meat products to a range of
Following a large recall of ground beef in the United States due to contamination with
the pathogen E. coli O157:H7, the Food Safety and Inspection Service increased the
regulatory burden for imports of beef. AQIS worked with industry to formulate a
response. The United States determined that Australian procedures were equivalent to
its own, providing the best outcome for Australia (see case study on page 181).
AQIS successfully negotiated the trial of the Meat Safety Enhancement Program (an
alternative meat inspection model) at a Queensland establishment, allowing meat to
be exported to the United States. The new model has the potential to save industry
money through more efficient inspections.
Joint action by the department, the meat export industry and the Department of
Foreign Affairs and Trade resisted a move by several countries to implement fees for
their inspection of Australian abattoirs and processing plants.
The Philippines lifted the ban on the importation of Australian meat and bone meal as
a result of AQIS action. Requests for commercial contracts have followed.
We continued to direct significant resources to ensure that certification of export
product is accurate and complete, especially for the European Union, where a change
to the regulations in 2007 resulted in AQIS putting into production some 800 animal
by-product certificates, which included 15 import and 15 transit certificates in
Our work to maintain access for Australian agricultural and food products to
international markets included the provision of comment by the Grain and Plant
Products Export Program to Biosecurity Australia to support market access
negotiations for plant and plant products to markets in South America, Thailand,
Korea, Sri Lanka and India.
The Horticulture Export Program dealt with operational aspects of the export of
Australian citrus to Japan, leading to improved conditions for export. Significant
savings to industry may result from changes to arrangements for Japanese inspectors
to supervise cold treatments in Australia.
Outlook for 2008–09
An independent review into biosecurity and quarantine, headed by Roger Beale AO,
will report at the end of September 2008 and is expected to lead to a period of change
for AQIS. The report of the Equine Influenza Inquiry by the Hon. Ian Callinan AC
will feed into the review. The outcomes will be critical in shaping Australia’s
quarantine and biosecurity delivery into the future, ensuring that the department is
well placed to face future quarantine challenges.
Following the Callinan inquiry, a new Animal Quarantine Branch has been
established in the Quarantine Operations Division to take primary responsibility and
accountability for the importation of horses into Australia.
Other work in 2008–09 will include the following.
• A review of the Export Control (Organic Produce Certification) Orders will be
conducted to ensure that it effectively reflects export control systems.
• The Organic Program is assessing options for accreditation of approved certifying
organisations to minimise duplication of accreditation processes while ensuring
that importing country requirements are met.
• Exports Division Verification Unit will assess adequacy and implementation of
the instructional material (standard operating procedures and work instructions)
issued within the Exports Division.
• The Grain and Plant Products Export Program’s priority for 2008–09 will be the
development of instructional material for staff and verification of its use.
• The Horticulture Export Program is expecting a difficult year for the horticulture
sector, with the affects of drought and a strong Australian dollar resulting in a
reduction of horticultural exports in 2008–09.
• The Live Animal Exports Program will continue to consolidate and develop
instructional material for staff and associated training and verification systems.
• The Dairy Exports Program will focus on corrective actions from the European
Union review in 2008, and the further development of instructional material for
• The Animal Products Market Access Branch will finalise the Honey Orders.
• Quarantine programs will:
continue development of national standard operating procedures and work
instructions, together with associated national training programs and
continue review of information technology system requirements to meet our
current and future business needs
identify activities that deliver benefits to AQIS and industry through
improvements to AQIS operations.
• The AQIS Airports Program will continue to work as an active member of the
Inter-Departmental Passenger Facilitation Taskforce to progress initiatives that
will improve passenger clearance processes without compromising border
• In partnership with Customs, Asia Pacific Airports Corporation Ltd, L3
Communications and BCS Group, AQIS has progressed a project at Melbourne
International Airport testing the potential for screening passengers’ baggage
before it is collected from carousels. In the face of continuous growth in passenger
numbers, this initiative has the potential to improve passenger clearance while
maintaining quarantine integrity. The trial is due for completion by September
• AQIS will continue to work closely with Australia Post to cater for increased mail
volume, clear mail backlogs and improve the operational processing of potential
quarantine risk mail items.
Case study 7: AQIS wins prestigious US environmental award
The Australian Fumigation Accreditation
Scheme (AFAS), an AQIS-led initiative,
has won a major award from the United
States Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) for its efforts in reducing the use of
methyl bromide through effective
The EPA’s Stratospheric Ozone Protection
Awards recognise exceptional leadership,
dedication and technical achievements in Rob Williams, Agriculture-Veterinary
protecting the Earth’s ozone layer. Counsellor, Australian Embassy in
Washington, accepting the Stratospheric
Nominees compete globally against the Ozone Protection Award on behalf of AQIS
notable accomplishments of many other from Drusilla Hufford, the Director of the
entrants, and the winners are selected by Stratospheric Protection Division, United
previous winners. States Environmental Protection Agency
Through AFAS, AQIS’s Offshore Development Unit helps overseas exporting
• register and monitor fumigation providers
• develop the technical expertise of fumigation providers through training in
world’s best practice
• help fumigators maintain a high standard of performance and compliance with
• facilitate foreign export trade.
The AFAS program’s cooperative approach uses three teams of expert fumigators and
a program of annual joint audits.
The scheme has been endorsed by the APEC forum, has been implemented in
Indonesia, India, Malaysia and Thailand and is in the final stages of implementation
in Papua New Guinea, China and the Philippines.
Since 2004, AFAS has halved the number of imported containers from Indonesia and
Malaysia requiring refumigation on arrival in Australia. This produced a reduction of
around 95 tonnes in the amount of methyl bromide used for quarantine treatments
‘In the four years that AFAS has been fully operational, not only has Australia’s
quarantine risk been reduced through improved offshore fumigation practices, but the
use of methyl bromide, a powerful ozone depleting gas, has decreased significantly,’
said David Cox, manager of AQIS’s Offshore Development Unit.
‘The EPA award recognises the important environmental contribution that AFAS has
made, and will continue to make, through its future growth and implementation.’
Case study 8: AQIS action protects lucrative export market
Swift action by AQIS Exports Division maintained Australian beef exporters’ access
to the massive United States ground beef market in 2007.
In mid-2007, the United States, home of the hamburger, experienced many cases of
food poisoning from bacterial contamination of ground beef products made from
Canadian cattle. The offending organism was Escherichia coli O157:H7, a strain of a
common gut bacterium, but one capable of causing bloody diarrhoea, kidney failure
and sometimes death. The strain has caused up to 60 deaths per year in the US. The
2007 outbreak led to the recall of more than 21 million pounds of product and put one
of America’s biggest producers of frozen hamburgers out of business.
The US had long required testing for imports of ground beef, which is more likely to
cause food poisoning than steaks or fillets. E. coli on the surface of meat cuts is
usually destroyed when the cuts are cooked, but mincing the beef for hamburgers
distributes the bug through the meat pattie, where it might not reach a lethal
temperature during cooking.
The US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that it now required
stringent testing of meat intended for grinding, as well as pre-ground product.
AQIS immediately made a written submission to the FSIS, seeking recognition of
Australian bacteriological testing as equivalent to US standards, and AQIS’s Mark
Schipp and Greg Read made two trips to the agency’s Washington DC headquarters
to back up the case.
‘Australian exporters sent $1.15 billion worth of beef to the US in 2007,’ said Mark
Schipp. ‘And 99% of it went as boneless meat, so this was potentially a very
‘Ultimately, we were successful. The FSIS is satisfied that testing by Australian
export meat establishments will detect contamination and protect US consumers, and
the trade is continuing.’
Of countries exporting to the US, Australia was the first to achieve this recognition.
Table 16 Output 6 performance, 2007–08
Output 6 objective
To reduce the risk to Australia’s animal, plant and human health status and maintain market access through the
delivery of quarantine and export services.
Output component: Delivery of effective Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) quarantine
Level of quarantine intervention and quarantine risk effectiveness at the border.
Level of awareness of AQIS quarantine services.
Quarantine intervention levels at the border
This figure shows quarantine intervention levels against targets for 2007–08.
Target 1st qtr 2nd qtr 3rd qtr 4th qtr
International mail: all mail
Import clearance: external examination
Import clearance: external examination
Seaports: disembarking passengers
Seaports: day tripping passengers
Import clearance: high-volume low-
Airports: passengers and crew
of sea cargo containers
of air cargo containers
value air cargo
Government policy sets quarantine intervention levels at 100% for all international vessels arriving by air or sea,
all international mail and air courier consignments, and the inspection of the external surfaces of air and sea
cargo containers. For passengers arriving at airports, the intervention target is lower (81%) to allow for efficient
passenger processing during peak arrival times. However, all airline passengers are subject to risk profiling by
quarantine inspectors to ensure that quarantine intervention is directed at those who pose a greater quarantine
For international mail, the intervention rate (the proportion of mail X-rayed or inspected by detector dogs) was
maintained at the 100% target level throughout 2007–08.
For quarantine clearances of the external surfaces of sea cargo containers, the intervention rate (the proportion of
arriving sea cargo containers that are externally inspected) was maintained at the target of 100% throughout
The baggage of all disembarking cruise ship passengers is either inspected, X-rayed or subjected to detector
dogs. The hand luggage of all day-tripping passengers is inspected.
For vessels in seaports, the intervention rate (the proportion of vessels inspected at their first port of arrival)
was maintained at the target of 100% throughout 2007–08.
Intervention for high-volume, low-value air courier consignments was 95–99%, slightly below the 100% target.
The rate of intervention for the external inspection of air cargo containers was 94–96%, also slightly below
the 100% target.
At airports, quarantine intervention (measured as the proportion of international passengers and crew whose
baggage is inspected or X-rayed) remained above the 81% target for the first half of the year, but dropped
to 79% in the third quarter and 78% in the fourth quarter.
Quarantine risk effectiveness at the border
This figure shows quarantine risk effectiveness against targets for 2007–08.
Target 1st qtr 2nd qtr 3rd qtr 4th qtr
mail: all mail
mail: all mail
In AQIS quarantine border operations, quarantine risk effectiveness is measured using a framework developed by
the Australian National Audit Office. Quarantine risk effectiveness is measured by the number of quarantine items
seized at the border as a proportion of total quarantine items approaching.
At airports, seaports, and international mail centres, effectiveness uses a two-tiered classification system,
separating seizures into ‘higher risk’ and ‘risk’ groupings. Those items with the most serious quarantine
consequences are in the ‘higher risk’ group, which has correspondingly higher effectiveness targets. Other
material, of lower (but still significant) quarantine concern, is in the ‘risk’ group.
Although quarantine intervention rates at international airports were slightly below the target of 81% in the latter
part of 2007–08, the effectiveness of quarantine intervention for international passengers and crew was
maintained above target levels. Effectiveness of inspection of passengers and crew at airports ranged from 89%
to 93% for higher risk quarantine material, above the target of 87%. Effectiveness in detecting other quarantine
risk items ranged from 78% to 83%, well above the target of 50%.
For international mail, effectiveness in detecting higher risk items in incoming mail ranged between 77% and
94%; effectiveness for other risk material was between 69% and 84%.
At seaports, effectiveness in detecting higher quarantine risk material carried by disembarking passengers ranged
from 67% to 100%, against a target of 87%. Effectiveness in detecting other quarantine risk material in
inspections of disembarking passengers was between 63% and 100%, well above the target of 50%.
Effectiveness in detecting higher quarantine risk material carried by day-tripping passengers was maintained at
100% throughout 2007–08, well above the target of 87%. Effectiveness in detecting other quarantine risk material
in inspections of day-tripping passengers was also maintained at 100% throughout 2007–08, well above the
target of 50%.
For clearance of high-volume, low-value air cargo, effectiveness remained well above the 96% target, ranging
from 99% to 100%. For clearance of the external surfaces of air cargo containers, effectiveness ranged from 84%
to 98% against the target of 96%. For the external surfaces of sea cargo containers, effectiveness ranged from
95% to 96%, very close to the target of 96%. For vessels, effectiveness was between 85% and 100%, against a
target of 96%, and passed the target of 96% in the last quarter, with effectiveness of 97%.
Level of awareness of AQIS quarantine services
AQIS activities during the year maintained Australians’ high level of awareness about AQIS quarantine services.
See ‘Awareness of quarantine and export requirements’ for details of AQIS’s work in this area.
Output component: Delivery of effective AQIS export services
The number of consignments in export markets where facilitation of release of cargoes is attributed to AQIS
The rate of rejections of export consignments.
The level of awareness of AQIS export services.
We delivered effective AQIS export services during 2007–08 by:
working closely with industry advisory committees to ensure wide understanding of export requirements
publishing guidelines for the development and implementation of approved arrangements required under export
promoting the professional development of field staff in the export meat program
assisting in reviews of the export meat system by the United States, China, Indonesia and the European Union.
Live animal exports
In 2007–08, 9007 consignments of live animals and reproductive material were exported. No consignments were
reported to be rejected, although importing countries do not routinely notify AQIS of rejections, and there is no
requirement for industry to report this information.
In 2007–08, the Grain and Plant Products Export Program received eight non-compliance notifications from
importing country National Plant Protection Organisations. No grain export consignment required AQIS
intervention for release.
In 2007–08, less than 0.5% of total horticultural export consignments were notified as rejected on arrival by the
importing country because pests or soil contamination was identified and could not be treated (2006–07: less
than 1%). Twenty nine consignments were released after AQIS intervention. In most cases, consignments held by
importing country quarantine authorities are treated by the importing authority and released.
The number of rejections of meat export consignments cannot be reliably determined because importing
countries do not routinely notify AQIS of rejections, and there is no requirement for industry to report this
The United States has reported rejection data in the past, but incompatibility of information technology systems
resulted in no rejections being reported for some years. More recent rejection data from the United States are
inadequate, and the many negotiations undertaken are not tracked. The Australian National Audit Office has
recommended the removal of this performance measure.
The total number of interventions required for prescribed goods (meat, dairy products, eggs and fish) was lower in
2007–08 than in previous years. The reduction was largely due to continued improvements in the export
certification system, which now more closely reflects importing country requirements. The table below shows
figures on AQIS intervention for detained consignments of meat, game meat, poultry, animal by-products, dairy
products, eggs and fish and organic produce.
Following the restructure of the Export Facilitation Program in July 2006, AQIS Animal Products Market Access
Branch has continued to share the responsibility for assisting in the release of consignments of non-prescribed
goods. An additional 31 interventions were carried out for detained non-prescribed goods and approximately 300
emails requesting export procedural information were responded to.
Export consignments of prescribed goods requiring AQIS intervention for release
1st quarter 2nd quarter 3rd quarter 4th quarter Total
2007–08 112 160 75 72 419
2006–07 180 147 143 119 589
2005–06 270 191 124 152 737
2004–05 172 208 160 232 772
Level of awareness of AQIS export services
Australian exporting industries’ awareness of AQIS export services remained high during the year. See
‘Awareness of quarantine and export requirements’ for details of AQIS’s work in this area.
No administered items contributed to Output 6.