Notice to Transitional Facility Operators

by on 16 January 2019

Dear TF Operator

Those of you who subscribe to the Sea Container Report may have read about some upcoming and proposed changes in relation to transitional facilities. We are aware that not all Operators may have read this report (sent in Nov 2018), and we have had a few queries; so this email summarises the main changes that may impact you and your TF.

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  1. Online Internal Audit Submission:

From 2019, all TF Operators now need to complete and submit their annual internal audit online rather than the current paper version.

Go to the new audit portal

It only takes 10-15 minutes and you’ll receive an acknowledgment email of your submission which also includes your answers.  Details are outlined in the attached PDF – in this it states that you have from 1 Nov 2018 until 1 Feb 2019 to complete this online internal audit.  However, as this is a new process, we have extended this deadline until 4 March 2019.

If we do not receive your internal audit by 4 March 2019, you will be sent a letter of intent to suspend and will be given 10 days to comply before any action is taken.  Even if you have completed your 2018 internal audit, you will still need to complete this online form for the 2019 calendar year.

Find more information on the MPI website

  1. New Biosecurity Fines:

This year, MPI plans to introduce new Biosecurity Infringement offences that will allow companies operating TFs or TF Operators to be infringed. This would be for those TFs:

  • who do not have an approved TF Operator,
  • that release unauthorised goods, or
  • TFs that do not comply with applicable operating standards.

The details on what will be infringed are still being finalised and this will be communicated to you separately to this email.  The fines are proposed to be $400 for individuals and $800 for companies for each offence.

Note that when Operators identify and report non-compliances to MPI and immediately take preventative actions, they would not be issued an infringement.  The introduction of these infringements will send a strong message about the critical nature of compliance.

  1. TF Security Requirements:

Security requirements will be strengthened to give MPI increased confidence that uncleared risk goods (which includes containers) at a TF are fully secure at all times from unauthorised entry by unapproved persons and to prevent undetected contaminants or pests from escaping.  To meet the new security requirements TFs must:

  1. Devan the container inside a secure building OR both of the below
  2. Hold a container in a secure fully fenced and gated area, which must be lockable (at least 1.8m high) area, and
  3. Lock the container, for example, secure with a substantial padlock

In addition to the above, we encourage the use of alarm systems, security cameras, etc.  We realise there are costs to meet these requirements so MPI will allow until 1 September 2019 for existing TFs to comply.  MPI may consider equivalent options to ensure security requirements can be met.  After this date, MPI will cancel TFs if they do not meet these new requirements.  Any new TF application will need to meet these requirements.

Some frequently asked questions

What if I have my containers delivered and devanned on the day of arrival (during working hours)?

We understand the reasoning behind this but this will not be permitted if your TF is not physically and structurally secure.  This is as we know that containers can be delivered at times when TF staff are not present and a container may need to be held unopened for several days if it is randomly selected as part of MPIs sea container audit programme; or for other MPI actions such as a Supervised Devan or for containers stopped by MPI during the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Season.

Could we use temporary fencing?

Yes – but will need to be able to be lockable and properly secured, and unable to be lifted out of place by any individual.  Discussion will be required with MPI in the first instance, prior to installation to meet the TF security requirements.  This should also reflect as part of the TF Security Management Plan in the TF Operating Manual.

Do I need to fence my TF if I’m in a shared facility with a fence and gate?

No – as long as the shared facility is fenced and there is a gate so the area is secure, you don’t need to fence each individual TF.

  1. Minimum Container Limits:

MPI is proposing to deregistering existing TFs that receive five or fewer sea containers per year.  This is still a proposal at this stage and may require MPI to go out for external consultation before any changes are made.  Note that special requirements would be taken into consideration (e.g., if specialised handling is required, in a region where no other TFs are available or if the TF is also a containment facility).  Affected importers would still be able to receive sea containers of non- risk goods to their business using the Multi-Site TF (MTF) scheme.

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