Inspector-General of Biosecurity: 2019–20 review plan
The Inspector-General of Biosecurity (IGB) commenced in the role on 25 July 2019 for a three-year term and developed a review program as required under the Biosecurity Act 2015. The Act specifies that the IGB may review the performance of functions, or exercise of powers, by biosecurity officials, including the Director of Biosecurity, who is the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (the department). This review program is over and above the department’s internal audit and performance management programs.
Consultations with the department’s executives and key stakeholder organisations identified key strategic topics for review during the three-year term of the IGB’s appointment. These were selected with the assumption that further topics might be identified; that the topics and scope might be modified as further consultation proceeds; and that further reviews might be required as external needs arise.
In developing the indicative three-year program, the IGB consulted the then Minister of Agriculture and the Director of Biosecurity. In October 2019, the Minister and the Director of Biosecurity provided feedback on potential reviews to be included in the program.
During 2019–20, the IGB proposes to undertake the following reviews:
Review underway at October 2019
1. Reliability of pre-border certification as an effective biosecurity risk mitigation measure
A review of the Department of Agriculture’s recognition of pre-border certification (including the role of overseas competent authorities) as a biosecurity risk mitigation measure.
This review will use case studies on high-risk goods (such as bovine genetic material, horticultural produce and seafood) to consider:
- the department’s reliance on overseas certifying bodies/authorities and recognition of offshore third-party quality assurance systems;
- how certification is used by the department in its risk assessment and decision making at the border; and
- how the level of certification aligns with international trade facilitation and Australian government’s obligations.
Note: The former Inspector-General of Biosecurity initiated this review, and a report is in preparation.
Review topics and scope 2019–20
2. Adequacy of preventative border measures to mitigate the African swine fever risk entering Australia
This review will consider the effectiveness and adequacy of the department’s inspection, verification and surveillance measures across different pathways for detecting and mitigating biosecurity risks associated with undeclared meat products entering Australia.
3. Management of biosecurity risks associated with international express airfreight pathway
This review will consider how the department:
- profiles, assesses, targets, screens and inspects high-risk international express freight;
- undertakes ‘leakage survey’ to ascertain ‘residual risk’; and
- applies mitigation measures to reduce evolving biosecurity risks.
4. Review of level of clarity of operational authority, responsibility and technical expertise on regulatory actions for risk mitigation by regulated entities
This review will consider how the department executes/communicates its operational authority, responsibilities and technical expertise for timely, accountable regulatory decisions for risk mitigation by regulated entities, such as approved arrangements.