What the BAM Act does
The Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 (BAM Act) and associated regulations were enacted on 1 May 2013.
The new BAM Act takes the place of 16 older Acts and 27 sets of regulations with one Act and nine sets of regulations and enhances protection of the state’s $6billion agriculture and food sector and the environment.
The BAM Act modernises the law and removes inconsistencies between previous legislation to better serve business and the community. It will also lead to greater cooperation between government, landholders, industry and the community.The main purposes of the BAM Act and its regulations are to:
- Prevent new animal and plant pests (vermin and weeds) and diseases from entering Western Australia.
- Manage the impact and spread of those pests already present in the state.
- Safely manage the use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals.
- Increased control over the sale of agricultural products that contain violative chemical residues.
Who is affected
Agriculture may appear to be the focus of biosecurity under the name of the BAM Act, but in terms of biosecurity risks it is impractical today to consider agriculture in isolation. This is why the BAM Act is designed to facilitate cooperation between government agencies other than the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA), as well as interested groups ranging from primary producers to the general public. The new BAM Act extends to allow for the protection of industries such as forestry and aquaculture.
Major stakeholders with interests affected by BAM Act include:
- rural landholders and managers
- local and state government authorities
- freight carriers
- public transport carriers and individual travellers
- importers (commercial and private)
- stock and grain producers
- people who keep and trade declared pests
- nursery/garden businesses
- stock feeders
- fertiliser manufacturers
Thorough consultation was undertaken with stakeholders during the drafting of the Act and regulations.
Under the BAM Act the guidelines for biosecurity extend from border to post-border. New penalties can be issued by Quarantine WA to persons who contravene the regulations regarding importing potentially harmful organisms or carriers of such organisms. Not only does the BAM Act regulate interstate imports, the BAM Act also regulates interstate exports by way of quality assurance programs.
Industry and community involvement
The involvement of the whole community has also been facilitated under the BAM Act. In both pastoral and agricultural areas, groups who are tackling established declared pests which impact on the public as well as private interests may now be formally acknowledged as Recognised Biosecurity Groups (RBGs) by the Minister.
RBGs, with the agreement and support of landholders in their prescribed area, can request the Minister for Agriculture and Food to levy rates on properties in the area to fund declared pest control activities. The work undertaken by RBGs is intended to add value to pest control undertaken by individual landholders and is not intended to replace individual responsibilities.
Industry is also now able to take an active role in the management of biosecurity issues thanks to Industry Funding Schemes which are already in place for the grains/seed/hay, sheep/goats and cattle industries.
Central to the BAM Act is the Biosecurity Council, established in 2007, which is an advisory panel comprising specialists from all areas of industry to provide advice to the Minister for Agriculture and the Director General of DAFWA.