Last updated 8 February 2023

The Biosecurity Act 2014 (Qld) (Biosecurity Act) and the Biosecurity Regulation 2016 (Qld) (Biosecurity Regulation) protect Queensland from biosecurity threats such as weeds, pests and other invasive species that can harm biodiversity, crops, livestock and human health.

Two concepts underpin the new system:

  • biosecurity matter
  • carriers.

A ‘biosecurity matter’ includes things that may pose a risk to the biosecurity of Queensland. Biosecurity matter includes plants, pests and pathogens, invasive animals, animal diseases and contaminants.

The Biosecurity Act defines two types of biosecurity matter:

  • prohibited matter
  • restricted matter.

Prohibited matter does not occur in Queensland, and restricted matter may occur in Queensland but is subject to strict controls.

Prohibited matter can be diseases, viruses or parasites, invasive animals and plants (e.g. pest animal or weed), exotic marine animals, plants or diseases, noxious fish or insect pests. Schedule 1 of the Biosecurity Act provides long lists of prohibited matters such as highly pathogenic avian influenza.

There are seven categories of restricted matter. Each category places restrictions on the dealings with the biosecurity matter or requires actions to be taken to minimise the spread and adverse impact of the biosecurity matter.

Category 1 and 2 restricted matters have specific urgent reporting requirements. These categories must be reported if the restricted matter is in or on a carrier, in your possession or under your control, or at a place where you are the occupier and you are not aware that an appropriately authorised officer has been advised or you do not possess a permit for the restricted matter.

An example of a category 1 restricted matter is red imported fire ants, an invasive species from South America that was detected in Brisbane in 2001 and has been the subject of a large eradication program.

A ‘carrier’ is a thing that can carry prohibited or restricted biosecurity matter (s 17 Biosecurity Act).

For instance, soil and garden mulch can be a carrier for restricted matters such as red imported fire ants and restrictions apply to movement of these items within or out of biosecurity zones declared under the Biosecurity Act. Fire ant biosecurity zones have been declared in South East Queensland.

There is a general biosecurity obligation to take all reasonable and practical measures to prevent or minimise the biosecurity risk (s 23 Biosecurity Act).

It is illegal to deal with anything classified as prohibited matter, and conditions apply to dealings with restricted matter.

Biosecurity Queensland has published a Biosecurity Manual explaining it.

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is responsible for quarantine and other biosecurity management at a federal level.