Phase two works underway

The second phase of the build of the new Post Entry Quarantine facility in Mickleham has started.

Construction of the avian facility is now underway following the recent ground breaking at the site where the compound will be located. The Avian facility will be completed by 2018 and will replace current facilities at Torrens Island and Spotswood.

The facility at Mickleham will combine live bird and hatching egg capabilities in a single building envelope. The envelope will contain a series of individual and completely separate containment areas, all with separate access.

The combined floor space of the three hatching egg areas represents more than a three-fold increase in the Torrens Island capacity and is capable of further expansion.

The capacity of the two live bird areas has also increased by almost 100 per cent with the total occupancy for pigeons raised to 300 in two separate areas. Individual areas are able to be used in isolation or occupied concurrently by one importer, depending on the size of the import consignment.

The entire post entry avian quarantine compound has been designed to Quarantine Containment Level 3 to mitigate the biosecurity risks associated with avian imports. The design is complemented by operational procedures to protect each consignment from cross-contamination.

Construction is also about to begin on the second stage of the cats and dogs facility and work on the ruminant facility is also starting.

Operations for horses, cats, dogs and plants are have been underway at the new post entry quarantine (PEQ) facility since November 2015.

ruminant earth breaking

Works start at the ruminant compound

Animal operations run smoothly as works continue

The new Post Entry Quarantine facility welcomed its first intake of cats and dogs on 23 November 2015 and then horses and plants in December 2015. Three months on, operations are running smoothly and the facility has already played host to around 800 animals arriving into quarantine.

Of that, there have been almost 100 horses, 525 dogs and 220 cats.

Horses imported so far include Thoroughbreds, Friesians and German Ponies. The facility has two identical horse compounds with a capacity of 40 horses each. The compounds are supported by modern veterinary and exercise facilities.

The most popular breeds of dogs imported through Mickleham so far has been Labrador, Jack Russell Terriers, Poodles, Shih Tzu and Golden Retrievers as listed below. The dogs are housed in one of the 226 kennels which include floor heating, veterinary examination rooms and exercise yards. Phase two of building the dog compound will take capacity up to 400 animals.

Breed Number imported
 Labrador  40
 Jack Russell Terrier  33
 Poodle  26
 Shih Tzu  22
 Golden Retriever  18

Of the 220 imported cats there has been an interesting range, most cats were domestic cats but the facility has also welcomed some exotic breeds including Siamese and Norwegian Forest Cats.  There are currently 120 cat pens, stage two works will increase this capacity to 240.  The top five imported breeds in the past three months were:

 Breed Number Imported
 Domestic Cat  115
 British Short Hair  16
 Burmese  11
 Siamese  8
 Norwegian Forest Cat  6

The facility is now hosting its first plant imports with stone fruits and a variety of ornamental plants currently in quarantine.  The newly imported plants join 1500 domestic root stocks for stone fruit, apple, pear and citrus which were transferred from the existing facility at Knoxfield and citrus cultivars from Eastern Creek, Sydney.

Further development of the site under stage two works include the development of the ruminant and avian compounds. These works have commenced and are scheduled to be completed by 2018.

Official opening ceremony of Australia’s new post entry quarantine facility

The new Mickleham post entry quarantine facility in Victoria has been officially opened by the Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP.  The facility will be available to provide post entry quarantine for bees, cats, dogs, horses and plants this year.

Official Opening Plaque, 26 October 2015

Official Opening Plaque

The opening ceremony was attended by industry and officials involved with the consultation, development and construction of the facility. The opening event included the unveiling of a plaque and a tour for interested stakeholders.

Set on 144 hectares on the northern outskirts of Melbourne, the new facility will cater for the import of birds (pigeons), fertile hatching eggs of poultry, bees, cats, dogs, horses, ruminants (mainly alpacas) and plants. The site is more than five times the size of the largest existing facility.

The construction of the new facility has been planned in two main phases, the first phase which has now been officially opened includes the bee facility, plant compound, horse compounds and the first stage of the dog and cat compounds. These compounds will be operational this year.

The second phase is the building of the avian and ruminant compounds, and stage two of the dog and cat compounds which will be open in 2018.
It has been designed featuring modern laboratories, cat and dog kennels with high standards of animal welfare, technically sophisticated design for the avian and plant compounds, horse compounds that provide greater flexibility, a high level of security and public zones for visitors. Importantly, the facility also has space for future growth.

The Mickleham post entry quarantine facility is an important element of Australia’s biosecurity system that will support the management of high risk plant and animal imports into Australia.

Preparations are well underway for the first arrival of dogs and cats in November.


Overview of some of the plant compound

Overview of the plant compound


The completed reception building

The completed reception building


Dog and cat facility hosts first stay

The dog and cat compounds of the new Mickleham facility have concluded operational commissioning this week. The commissioning tests the new facility with domestic animals as a final check to ensure it is ready to accept international arrivals.

The Department of Agriculture worked with the Lost Dogs’ Home to have 22 dogs and cats stay at the facility for a period of a week. Some of the staff became so attached to their charges that they have already applied to adopt them.

The cats and dogs enjoyed the highest welfare standards while the department was able to trial and streamline its procedures in both the dog and the cat compounds.

Charlie enjoying the underfloor heating at the new PEQ dog compound.

Charlie enjoying the underfloor heating at the new PEQ dog compound.

The facility has climate controlled kennels, exercise yards and comfortable accommodation.

Thousands of cats and dogs are imported into Australia each year. Since 1993, an estimated 80 000 cats and dogs have been imported into Australia.

Augustus settling in to the new cat pen.

Augustus settling in to the new cat pen.

The new post entry quarantine facility will manage the risk of exotic pests and diseases establishing in Australia. Rabies is the most significant disease of concern associated with the import of cats and dogs, primarily due to the often fatal consequences of rabies virus infection in all mammals, including humans.

Post entry quarantine also serves to ensure there are no exotic ticks on cats and dogs as ticks can also carry diseases. The 10 day quarantine period, in addition to testing conducted offshore prior to import, allows biosecurity and veterinary officers sufficient time to assess that the animals are healthy and are not carrying diseases or parasites.

The PEQ facility will start taking online bookings next month and then open progressively, taking cats and dogs from 23 November.

Hudon keeping watch.

Hudson keeping watch.

Confirmed dates for commodity intakes at the new post entry quarantine facility

The Australian Government is investing in the future of Australia’s biosecurity system through the design and construction of a new post entry quarantine facility in Mickleham, Victoria. The facility will be officially opened in October 2015 and will begin to accept its first commodity intakes.

Commodity intakes at Mickleham have been staggered across October through to December to ensure a smooth transition with minimal disruption to services. The availability of the facility for the first commodity intakes are:

  • bees from 19 October
  • cats and dogs from 23 November
  • horses from 30 November
  • plants from 1 December 2015.

Once fully completed in 2018, the new facility will replace all of the department’s existing quarantine facilities at Eastern Creek in NSW, Torrens Island in SA and Knoxfield and Spotswood in VIC. As the leases on these facilities expire over the next three years, imported animals and plants will stop being accepted at these facilities.

The first facility to close will be the Eastern Creek Quarantine Station which will cease to accept animal arrivals after 9 November 2015.

If you require assistance or further information about booking your plant or animal into the new post entry quarantine facility, please see the Department of Agriculture website for importing cats and dogs, horses, plants and bees. For further information on the design of the facility, visit the facility design page.

The facility is close to completion with landscaping underway across the site.

The facility is close to completion with landscaping underway across the site.

Importing horses

The horse walker and yards close to completion in July 2015.

The horse walker and yards close to completion in July 2015.

Australia is recognised internationally as a producer of outstanding horses for a wide variety of disciplines and events. Australia attracts worldwide interest and investment in these events, including the Melbourne Cup. Horses are imported into Australia for breeding to diversify local genetic stock and to compete in sporting events including racing, endurance and dressage.    

Horses can be imported to Australia from over 25 approved countries, including Canada, Japan and Iceland. These imported horses can be a considerable risk to Australia’s horse industry, other agricultural industries and human health, due to the exotic diseases and pests they may carry. Horses also pose a significant plant quarantine risk as the seeds of weed species may be present in stalls, equipment and animal faeces. To make sure Australia remains free from these exotic pests and diseases, strict quarantine requirements exist for imported horses and any people or goods in contact with the horse.

Imported horses are required to undergo both pre-export and post-entry quarantine. Before arrival in Australia, horses must undergo pre-export quarantine for a minimum 14 days at a Department of Agriculture approved facility in their home country. Upon arrival in Australia, horses complete post-entry quarantine for a minimum 14 days. Post-entry quarantine can be completed at either the commonwealth-operated post-entry quarantine facility at Eastern Creek, New South Wales or the privately-operated quarantine-approved facilities at Werribee, Victoria and Canterbury Park, New South Wales.

The new post-entry quarantine facility being built at Mickleham in Victoria will replace the existing commonwealth-operated facility at Eastern Creek. The new horse facilities are split across two independent compounds. Each compound will include stables to accommodate up to 40 horses, a surgery, turnout yards and a horse walker, as well as a truck drop off and wash station and an amenities building. The structural components of the facility are completed, and fit out of the stables will complete the construction of the facility in July 2015. When the facility is completed, it will be tested using domestic horses to ensure it meets the department’s biosecurity and welfare standards.

The Mickleham horse compound will commence operation in late 2015. Once operating, all horses destined for commonwealth-operated quarantine will be required to enter Australia through Melbourne Airport and complete post-entry quarantine at the new facility.  

For further information on importing live horses to Australia, click here. For further information on the design of the horse compound, visit the facility design page.

The external structures of the horse compound, including the stables, truck drop off and wash station and amenities building.

The external structures of the horse compound, including the stables, truck drop off and wash station and amenities building.

The fitted out horse stalls in July 2015.

The fitted out horse stalls in July 2015.

Post entry quarantine supporting agricultural industries

Australia is recognised worldwide as a producer of clean, green and disease and pest free agricultural products. This is reflected in the demand for Australian exports, valued at $41 billion in 2013–14. Australia’s strong biosecurity system and favourable biosecurity status supports Australian producers to access international markets. Assisting farmers to access premium markets is a priority for the Government, as outlined in the recently released Agricultural Competitiveness White paper.

Australia’s post entry quarantine regulations, including the new post entry quarantine facility, located at Mickleham in Victoria, are a key component of Australia’s biosecurity system. Post entry quarantine is the final step in the safe import of live animals and plants into Australia. The new facility will consolidate government owned post entry quarantine sites into one modern facility.

The new post entry quarantine facility will provide quarantine services for plants, cats, dogs, bees, horses, ruminants and avian species. It will strengthen Australia’s biosecurity system through early detection and prevention of the exotic diseases and pests that can have significant effects on productivity, profitability and market access of Australian farmers. The recently released Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper demonstrates the importance of a strong biosecurity system in maintaining Australia’s favourable pest, diseases and weed status.

Outbreaks of significant pests and diseases such as Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and highly pathogenic avian influenza are estimated to have a significant impact on production, profitability and market access. Australia is currently free of FMD, which has helped maintain access to premium red meat markets. Without an effective biosecurity system to manage the risk of an outbreak of FMD, the annual profits of beef, dairy and sheep enterprises would be decreased by 8-12 per cent. Post entry quarantine reduces the risk for producers of an outbreak of an exotic disease or pest and as a result helps to maintain Australia’s biosecurity status and access to international markets.

For further information on the Agricultural Competitiveness White paper please visit the website. To learn more about the need to safeguard Australia’s biosecurity, visit the Department of Agriculture’s website.


Importing cats and dogs

Photo of concrete panels for dog kennels

A dog kennel run under construction at the new PEQ facility. The enclosures will include outdoor areas and indoor areas with underfloor heating.

Anyone who’s owned pets knows how Rover and Mittens quickly become part of the family. But what happens should you decide to move to Australia? Rather than leaving their much-loved pet behind, many families will seek to bring their cat or dog to Australia. Cats and dogs are also imported by breeders within Australia to improve and diversify genetic bloodlines.

Owners can import cats and dogs to Australia from over 100 countries around the world. Before leaving their country of origin, cats and dogs must meet a series of import conditions including vaccinations, testing and treatment for a range of diseases and for internal and external parasites. Countries approved for import are classified into three categories according to disease risk, and these categories affect the conditions of entry and quarantine requirements for cats and dogs. Category one territories and countries have a health status similar to Australia, and subject to conditions, cats and dogs from these countries can travel to Australia without a permit or being quarantined after arrival. Most approved countries are category two or three, which means that rabies is absent or well-controlled but animals still require quarantine upon arrival in Australia due to other disease risks. Cats and dogs from these countries must go to a government-operated Post Entry Quarantine facility for a minimum of 10 days. During this time they are monitored to further confirm their good health status. Post Entry Quarantine is the final step in the importing process to prevent exotic diseases from threatening our domestic animals and human health.

The new facilities for the Post Entry Quarantine of cats and dogs are currently being built to replace the existing facilities in both Sydney and Melbourne. The new facilities are being built in two stages and will provide capacity for the quarantine of 240 cats and 400 dogs when completed in 2018. The first stage is expected to be completed and operating in late 2015. From this time cats and dogs will need to enter Australia through Melbourne airport and complete their Post Entry Quarantine at the new facility before being transported to their new homes throughout Australia.

Assistance dogs are subject to different conditions and will not be affected by the opening of the new Post Entry Quarantine Facility. For eligibility criteria and more information on bringing your assistance dog to Australia, click here.

For further information on bringing cats, dogs and other pets to Australia, click here. For further information on the design of the cat and dog compounds, visit the facility design page.


Construction update: November 2014 – April 2015



The scale and progress of construction is clear in this aerial view of the future facility.

Construction at the new Post Entry Quarantine facility is progressing rapidly. Since November, the main structures of the horse, cat and dog compounds have been erected and the roofs added. The glasshouses, screenhouse and laboratory in the plant compound have been built and climate control systems are installed. The bee compound was completed and buildings providing site-wide services such as the dispatch, administration and central utilities building, are expected to be finished in the coming months.

Buildings across the facility are now being fitted out. For example, IT infrastructure has been installed in the bee compound, while ceilings, stable gates and lighting have been added to the horse compound, and painting is underway at the plant laboratory.

The photos below give a snapshot of the variety of construction activity that occurred across the compounds for different commodities over the last six months. To see the monthly progression of each of the compounds, visit our photo gallery.

The top view of some of the horse buildings includes concrete walls and steel frames. Roofs have not been added at that time.

The sturdy concrete walls of the horse compound erected in November 2014.

Photo of cranes and construction workers building progress

Greenhouses being assembled in December 2014.

The photo shows steel frames for the cat compound

The frame for the cat compound was erected by March 2015.

By April 2015, individual kennels in the dog compound had been built. Gates and other fixtures are being added.

By April 2015, individual kennels in the dog compound had been built. Gates and other fixtures are being added.

The photo shows the concrete exterior of the laboratory

The external structure of the diagnostics laboratory and utilities building within the plant compound was complete at April 2015. Internal wall and floor surfaces are being completed this month.

Testing begins at plant compound

Domestic pomegranate plants in one of the newly constructed greenhouses

Domestic pomegranates in one of the new greenhouses

More than 500 domestic plants were delivered to the new Post Entry Quarantine facility in Mickleham, Victoria last week. Over the next four months, these plants will be housed in various greenhouses within the plant compound while operational commissioning tests are progressing. Although construction of the laboratory within the plant compound is still underway, the plants have been brought in now to allow us to finetune functions in the greenhouses as early as possible. Testing our processes early, and across all Melbourne seasons, will help ensure a smooth transition of operations to the new facility.

When complete, the new biosecure facility will include 2000 square metres of greenhouse space, which represents a 33% increase in capacity from current facilities. The new plant compound will also include an integrated diagnostics laboratory which will be used by our plant pathologists to monitor the health of the plants in quarantine.

When the new facility opens at the end of 2015, this will be the only Commonwealth-operated facility for high-risk plants imported to Australia. As such, the compound will provide post entry quarantine services for plants suited to the broad range of conditions across the country. To mimic Australia’s different climatic regions, the greenhouses are divided into zones where factors such as temperature and humidity can be independently adjusted for each house. Maintaining appropriate growing conditions within each greenhouse during the quarantine period is required to ensure adequate plant growth for the disease screening process.

Some commodity lines, including citrus plants, need to be held in quarantine for a minimum of two years to ensure that they are free of diseases that could harm our horticultural, agricultural and forestry industries, and our environment.

This week, additional tropical plants such as bananas and lychees have also been moved into the greenhouses to test how the greenhouse functions to maintain warm, humid conditions during the Melbourne autumn and winter.

For more information on how to import plants into Australia click here.