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Two caught and fined for attempting to import plants illegally

A Brisbane man and a Sunshine Coast woman have both faced court and been fined this week for attempting to bring plants into Australia illegally.

The Brisbane man was charged with attempting to illegally send aquatic plants into Australia through the mail. He was convicted in the Brisbane Magistrates court and entered into a $1,000 bond to be of good behaviour for 12 months.

The package and the potential risks inside it were first picked up when biosecurity officers conducted an x-ray inspection at the Brisbane International Transit mail facility. Further evidence proved that the man was intentionally trying to illegally import the plants.

The Sunshine Coast woman faced the Noosa District Court and was given $5,000 in fines for attempting to illegally bring Bromeliad plants into Australia through the Brisbane International Airport.

The woman pleaded guilty to the charges and was fined $4,000 for breaching biosecurity laws and a further $1,000 for making a false declaration.

Tim Chapman, First Assistant Secretary of Border Compliance Division with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) said the two fines show that there is no tolerance for people who intentionally put Australia’s biosecurity at risk.

“Not only can these plants carry exotic pests and diseases, introduced plant species can also be aggressive growers and compete with native plants for survival,” Mr Chapman said.

“If these plants got into Australia and started the spread of a pest or disease there would be very significant impacts for the horticulture, aquaculture and agricultural industries and to our natural environment.”

DAFF uses a range of detection methods including inspection, x-ray and detector dogs to find biosecurity risks at the border. DAFF also uses intelligence, including that provided by members of the community.

You can play your part in protecting Australia from exotic pests and diseases by reporting any knowledge of illegal imports to the biosecurity redline on 1800 803 006.

by S. C.
25 july 2013, World News > Oceania