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.


Importing horses

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 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

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


Greenhouses being assembled in December 2014.


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.


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 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.


Construction of the bee facility complete and ready for testing

The bee facility is the first building completed at the new Post Entry Quarantine Facility

Construction of the facility for imported bees at the Mickleham Post Entry Quarantine Facility is now complete. After careful planning and research, officers from the Department of Agriculture are excited to be testing the new facility over the coming weeks. For the testing, post entry quarantine processes will be carried out using domestic bees. Once testing at the compound has been successfully completed, imported bees may be quarantined at the new facility from the end of 2015.

Tests in the bee facility will conclude with a process called ‘grafting’, which is used to raise queen bees. Queen bees hatch from eggs that are identical to those of worker bees. However, queen bee eggs hatch in a special type of cell containing ‘royal jelly’. It is the consumption of this jelly that causes larvae to develop into queen bees. Grafting ensures queen bees are produced by moving bee eggs or young larvae from the ordinary worker bee cells into plastic queen bee cells containing royal jelly. The resulting queen bee cells are the only material that importers are able to remove from the post entry quarantine facility.

The queen bees bred from imported parent bees can then be used to establish new colonies in Australia. The genetics of the queen, and the drone bees she mates with, determine the genetics of the whole bee colony. The quarantine processes allow beekeepers to increase genetic diversity of their bees to improve traits such as honey production and disease resistance, while minimising the risk of diseases entering the country.

The bee facility is the first of seven compounds to be constructed. The facility for plants is also close to completion.

For more information on why we import bees click here. Detailed information on the bee import process at the existing post entry quarantine facility can be found here, and more information on raising queen honey bees can be found here.



Time-lapse video of construction in 2014

As 2015 begins, so does another year of construction at the site of the new Post Entry Quarantine Facility in Mickleham, Victoria.

Since construction commenced in May 2014, the site has been a flurry of activity. Cameras at the site have been on duty to collect daily images of the construction progress.

To see how much progress has been made, please see the time-lapse video below, showing pictures of the site from May till November 2014. The video is also available on the Department of Agriculture's YouTube Channel.

Time-lapse video of construction at the new PEQ facility in 2014

To see this progress in photos, have a look at our new photo gallery which contains monthly photos of the progress at each of the compounds. Check back every month to look at the progress of these buildings through 2015.

Modernising the way we deliver PEQ services

Industry clients and individuals who access the Department of Agriculture post entry quarantine services have taken part in a collaborative process to redesign how biosecurity services will be delivered at Australia’s new Post Entry Quarantine Facility, due to commence operations in 2015.
At workshops held in Melbourne and Sydney, clients of the department’s existing post entry quarantine (PEQ) facilities contributed their experience of how we currently interact with them and offered ideas on how to streamline business processes and improve client service through better use of modern technology and tools.
“It was great having representatives from all the industries who will be using the new PEQ facility and the co-design approach challenged participants to think through what we would really need or want for future interactions,” said Chris Prestwood, a turkey fertile egg importer.
Consultation with our PEQ clients is part of the department’s broader work to improve the way we deliver services, to make it easier for clients to work with us and meet Australia’s regulatory requirements. For more information, visit Working with you on the department’s website.
If you would like to be involved in any future engagement opportunities or would like more information about the department’s service delivery changes, please contact the department.


A buzz about bees

Some people might wonder why the future PEQ facility will have a compound devoted to bees. Bees don’t just provide delicious honey, but also honey products such as beeswax, and pollination services. Australia imports queen bees for the purpose of increasing genetic diversity and disease resistance within our bee populations. Around the world, there are a number of pests and diseases which can impact on bees. Some of these, including Varroa mite and Tracheal mite, are not currently present within Australia. As exotic pests and diseases would have negative impacts on the Australian Bee industry, strict guidelines have been developed for the importation and quarantine of queen bees.

Click to open. Worker bee with Varroa mite (circled), obtained from the Honey bee biosecurity threats brochure

The bee compound at the future PEQ facility has been designed to meet Australia’s forecast needs for imported bees, allowing bee keepers access to improved genetic stock and reducing the risk to industry. For information about the future bee compound click here or for more information about the Australian Honey Bee Industry, please visit Plant Health Australia’s Honey Bees page.