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25 Oct, 2012

Australia Alerts Diwali Revellers to Biosecurity-related Import Curbs


Canberra, 24 October 2012 – (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry) – The Diwali festival sees a large number of customary gifts come through Australia’s airports and mail centres. However, this gift exchange doesn’t come without its share of biosecurity risks that may impact on our environment, agriculture and tourism industries.

Commonly known as the “festival of lights”, Diwali is an official holiday celebrated 13-17 November in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji and is celebrated through exchanging traditional gifts with family and friends.

Biosecurity risk items include Indian sweets (barfi, ras malai and pedas), products containing dairy, fresh and dried fruit, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, teas, plants (including flowers and plant material).

First Assistant Secretary, Border Compliance for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), Tim Chapman said people must be aware of what they can and can’t send and receive.

“It’s important people declare any food, plant and animal products on their incoming passenger card if coming through the airport or clearly complete postal declaration labels for international mail items,” Mr Chapman said.

“Australia has the enviable status of being free from some of the nastiest diseases and pests that have devastated industries overseas. Our biosecurity system helps us manage the risk of these entering and establishing on our shores.”

“By being aware of Australia’s biosecurity conditions there is less chance of gifts being delayed or intercepted at the border. It will also ensure those celebrating do their part to protect Australia’s environment.”

“Alternative items to send include fabric, gold or silver beads and coins, personalised photo items and artificial flowers,” Mr Chapman said.

Biosecurity protects Australia’s human, animal and plant health. DAFF works closely with the community, industry, other governments and agencies to reduce the risks of exotic pests and diseases entering and establishing in Australia and harming our natural environment, food security and economy.

More information on what can’t be mailed to Australia is available on the DAFF website or by contacting DAFF on 1800 020 504.