The Department of Agriculture has issued strong warnings about the risk of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) entering Australia via dairy products.
The statement was made on the back of the conviction of Wonsoek Lee of Changshin International, who this week pleaded guilty of deliberately contravening Australia’s biosecurity requirements after illegally and knowingly importing dairy products into the country.
Lee was convicted of breaching the Quarantine Act 1908, fined $20,000, and handed a suspended sentence of one year and seven months imprisonment at Sydney District Court on Monday.
First Assistant Secretary of the Department of Agriculture’s compliance division, Raelene Vivian, said imported dairy products carrying FMD could cost the economy more than $50 billion over 10 years.
“That’s why we take deliberate non-compliance so seriously,” she said.
“Mr Lee and his company were found to have deliberately altered product descriptions and import documentation to gain a commercial advantage.
“Contrary to his documents and the conditions of his import permit, Mr Lee was found to have imported a large amount of high-risk product.
“Not only that, Mr Lee also disobeyed an order to move the goods into quarantine, instead moving them to another, non-approved facility.
“We offer training courses to help importers comply with our laws and as this case demonstrates, when they are ignored, we certainly take action.”
This was one of a number of investigations undertaken as part of Operation Hayride, which targets deliberate and serious breaches of the Quarantine Act.