A Brisbane man has been given a suspended jail sentence for attempting to import over 2,000 live plant bulbs and risking Australia’s prized biosecurity status.
Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud welcomed the strong penalties handed down by the court.
“Not only could the bulbs have carried exotic pests and diseases, some introduced plant species can become invasive and compete with native plants and agricultural crops,” Minister Littleproud said.
Mr Hei Wong pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 9 June 2021 to illegally importing, or attempting to import, ten packages of live plant bulbs from the United Kingdom.
He was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment. He was released on a bond of $3,500 with the condition he be of good behaviour for 2 years.
“Xylella is one of the world’s most devastating plant pests and is Australia’s number one priority plant pest. There is also no cure.
“If these bulbs got into Australia and started the spread of a pest or disease, like Xylella, there would be very significant impacts for the agricultural industries and to our natural environment.
“This is a reminder that the Australian Government will fully investigate and where appropriate prosecute those persons responsible for endangering the integrity of Australia’s flora, fauna, environment, and economy.
“The Biosecurity Amendment (Strengthening Penalties) Bill currently before Parliament will increase a number of civil and criminal penalties under the Biosecurity Act to ensure they are appropriate, adequate and fit the crime.”
“When this Bill is passed, Mr Wong and others that chose to disregard our biosecurity requirements would face a $444,000 penalty or 10 years in jail, or both.
“So, save yourself a costly mistake and ensure you are biosecurity aware of what can and can’t be brought into Australia.”
Before importing, bringing or mailing goods to Australia, check what you need to do by visiting www.agriculture.gov.au/import and www.agriculture.gov.au/travelling/bringing-mailing-goods.