A 45-year-old Vietnamese woman has been expelled from Sydney Airport after biosecurity officers discovered a stash of undeclared pork and food items in her luggage.
This is the first overseas traveller to be deported under strict new quarantine laws intended to keep African swine fever (ASF) out of the country.
The woman was carrying 4.6 kilograms of pork and 470 grams of eggs, along with kilograms of quail, pate, fruit, garlic and squid.
Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie said the woman was stopped at the airport for a routine inspection on arrival.
An amendment made in April to the Migration Act allows authorities to shorten or cancel visitor visas on the grounds of biosecurity contraventions and the importation of objectionable goods.
In a recent statement Ms McKenzie said that the threat of ASF was a major factor in the tightening of these laws.
“Earlier this year we implemented changes to immigration legislation so that international visitors who bring in undeclared high risk items, like pork from African swine fever affected countries, can be sent back home. They can be refused entry to Australia and have their visas cancelled for up to three years,” she said.
“Since we increased border checks we’ve been seizing 100 kilograms week in illegal pork products. Between 5 November 2018 and 31 August 2019, over 27 tonnes of pork were intercepted on air travellers entering Australia.
Ms McKenzie said African swine fever was potentially the worst animal health disease the world had ever seen.
International travellers who import high-risk items can be refused entry into Australia and have their visas cancelled for extended periods of time.
A spokesperson from the Federal Agricultural Department confirmed that new test results reveal ASF has been detected in around 50 per cent of pork products stopped at international airports, up from 15 per cent from nine months ago.
Australian Pork Chief Executive Margo Andrae has commended the government’s response to the pork discovery.
“The department has recently done testing in the last two weeks and in that two-week period there were 157 seizures that covered 418 individual products and almost 49 per cent of those products had ASF,” Ms Andrae said.