Australia’s plant export legislation changing on 28 March
By Gabrielle Stannus
New legislation dealing with plant export operations will come into effect at 3am (Eastern Daylight Time) on 28 March 2021. If you are a current or prospective exporter, registered establishment, accredited property or Authorised Officer, find out how you can remain up to date with this new legislation.
Under Australian plant export law, nursery stock, tissue cultures and seed where an importing country requires a phytosanitary (plant health) certificate or any other official certificate are considered as prescribed, i.e. controlled, goods. If you plan to export prescribed goods, you must:
register with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (‘the Department’) as an exporter (i.e., obtain an export licence)
use an export registered establishment to prepare your product for export
use a Plant Export Authorised Officer (AO) to inspect your product prior to export.
New legislation governing these plant export operations will come into effect at 3am (Eastern Daylight Time) on 28 March 2021, with the current agricultural export legislation due to expire on 1 April 2021. This new export legislation consists of the Export Control Act 2020 (‘the Act’) and the Export Control (Plants and Plant Products) Rules 2021 (‘plant rules’). The plant rules are subordinate to the Act and set the specific requirements for the export of plants and plant products.
The process for exporters to export plants and plant products from Australia has not changed. However, exporters should be aware that:
any inspection records issued by an authorised officer after 3 am AEDT on 28 March 2021 must be in the new inspection record template available on the PEOM. Records issued via the PEMS will automatically be in the new template
all inspection records issued before commencement in the old template (whether manual or in PEMS) will be recognised and accepted by the department for certification purposes until they expire
all export permits and government certificates, such as phytosanitary certificates, issued under the old legislation continue to have effect when the new Act commences
the process to obtain a phytosanitary certificate for re-export is changing.
after 15 March, electronic government certificate templates issued through EXDOC will be in the new template
updated manual government certificate templates must be used for all manual government certification requests that are likely to be processed after 28 March 2021. These templates will be available prior to 28 March 2021.
Any inspection records or treatment records that have been issued by an AO in the old template prior to commencement (and that have not expired), will continue to be accepted by the department after commencement of the new legislation for the purpose of export certification.
Registered establishments will automatically transition when the new legislation commences. They will continue to be registered for the same operations and functions they were registered for under the old legislation. This could include, but is not limited to:
the inspection or preparation of plants or plant products for export
horticulture treatment facilities
When the new legislation commences, registered establishments must continue implementing the systems, operations and procedures (management systems) that are currently in place.
All horticulture property accreditations including operations and markets will automatically transition when the new legislation commences. Accredited properties must continue implementing the systems, operations and procedures that are currently in place.
If you are an Authorised Officer (AO) before the commencement of the new legislation, your appointment and associated job functions will automatically transition. The expiry date of your appointment will not change. Updated instruments of appointment capturing your existing job functions and your relevant legislative powers will be available through individual AO profiles in the Plant Export Management System (PEMS) by 29 March 2021.The use of PEMS is mandatory from 1 February 2021 unless an exception applies.
The way your powers and functions are expressed in the legislation has changed. For example, an ‘export compliance inspection’ is now an ‘assessment of goods’. However, you must continue to follow instructional material when performing your functions. Instructional material is available on the Plant Export Operations Manual (PEOM).
NB. Authorised Officers are covered under Part 4 of Chapter 9 ‘Powers and officials’ of the Export Control Act 2020.
How to stay up to date
If you are an exporter, registered establishment, accredited property or Authorised Officer, you must:
Read the new plant export legislation webpage and follow specific instructions on process changes for commencement of the new export legislation on 28 March 2021
Check the PEOM regularly for updated instructional material prior to 28 March 2021
Become familiar with updated instructional material before the new legislation commences
Wait until the new legislation comes into effect on 28 March 2021 to follow updated instructional material
For more information, visit the new plant export legislation webpage or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay up to date with new plant export operations legislation on the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s website Image: DAWE