Australia destroyed much of its own country when it introduced rabbits from Europe in the 1800s. Rabbits "have caused great environmental damage since then," reports National Geographic. "Experts have even stated European rabbits' introduction to Australia was one of the fastest spreading instances of an invasive mammal."
This unfortunate decision from a couple of centuries ago is a big reason why Australia today zealously protects its environment with stringent biosecurity laws. Earlier this week, a woman learned about these laws the hard way.
Travel blogger Lays Laraya arrived at Perth Airport on a Qatar Airways flight from Dubai. She said the cabin crew gave her a rose, which she held in her hand as she walked through the airport. She says she was approached by plain-clothed officials who demanded to see her customs and immigration card, and noted that she didn't declare the rose. That turned out to be an expensive mistake.
From Yahoo News:
After a 30-minute search of her bags and personal belongings, Lays was hit with a penalty of $1,878 for knowingly providing false or misleading information.
A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry confirmed "all travellers coming to Australia must be aware of Australia's strict biosecurity requirements and the penalties for not complying with those requirements".
The most anybody can be fined is six penalty units, or $1878, 9 News reported. "Travellers and goods arriving in Australia can introduce exotic pests and diseases," the spokeswoman said.
"This could harm our health, environment and commercial industry, as such the department takes all steps needed to minimise and negate these impacts. The penalty units reflects the risk level to Australia."
Six penalty units for a rose. Next time, she should stick to smuggling rabbits.