Guilty plea for illegal budwood and seed imports

The Hon David Littleproud MP
Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management

A 40 year old male has pleaded guilty and been fined for attempting to illegally import 13 viable mango budwood cuttings and three packets of grape seeds.

Minister for Agriculture, Water and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, said the man appeared in the Perth Magistrates Court on 27 March where he was fined $1500 and ordered to pay court costs of $320.

“In June last year, biosecurity officers at Sydney International Mail Gateway Facility inspected a package from the United States and found three packets of grape seeds and 13 viable plant budwood cuttings, which were later identified as mango,” Minister Littleproud said.

“The man admitted that he was aware of the requirement for an import permit and was aware of the conditions but ordered the budwood and seeds anyway.

“Seeds are the most commonly intercepted biosecurity risk item at our international mail centres. Seeds can carry plant diseases and be contaminated by serious insect pests and exotic weed seeds, all of which pose threats to Australia’s natural environment and agricultural industries.

“In more recent years, seeds have been found to be the carriers of serious plant viruses that threaten our fruit and vegetable industry. For instance, some plant seeds can carry cucumber green mottle mosaic virus, which has the potential for huge crop losses for fruit farmers in Australia.

“In this case, the mango budwood could have introduced a range of plants pests or diseases identified by the mango industry as serious biosecurity threats, including mango sudden death syndrome, the red banded mango caterpillar, and mango malformation disease.

“I welcome the penalties handed down by the court. It sends a clear message that breaches of Australia’s biosecurity conditions will not be tolerated.

“It is a timely reminder to ensure everyone complies with our biosecurity conditions, as the impacts of COVID-19 will likely see an increase in incoming international mail.

“If you are considering purchasing goods from overseas, including through online shopping, ensure you check the goods are permitted and if there are any associated import conditions.

“Our biosecurity conditions are in place for a reason. Importers, including members of public who buy goods online, must comply or they will face the consequences.”

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