Reform of the Biodiscovery Act 2004

Queensland was the first jurisdiction in Australia to regulate biodiscovery activities when it passed the Biodiscovery Act 2004 (the Act).

Since the Act commenced, significant international developments have changed the regulatory requirements around access and benefit sharing. The most significant is the Nagoya Protocol, which came into effect in 2014. Australia signed the Protocol in 2012 but is yet to ratify it.

The Nagoya Protocol requires that biodiscovery only be undertaken with the prior informed consent of those who have a right to grant access, including Indigenous people and local communities. It also requires that the benefits of biodiscovery are fairly and equitably shared.

Reform of Queensland’s Act will help ensure that biodiscovery entities can collaborate internationally and access markets, and continue to demonstrate leadership in biodiscovery research and commercialisation.

Reform also represents a key step in recognising the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with respect to resources and traditional knowledge.

Options paper

The Queensland Government has released an options paper (PDF, 1.5MB) detailing options for reform of the Act. Your feedback will allow the government to consider potential reforms, and understand the costs and benefits of each option.

The options paper builds on the 2016 Statutory Review of the Biodiscovery Act 2004, the Government Response and feedback received through previous consultation.

Key areas of reform discussed in the options paper include:

  • the extent to which Queensland’s biodiscovery framework should be amended to be consistent with the Nagoya Protocol, including:
    • the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people regarding the use of resources and traditional knowledge for biodiscovery,
    • the scope of the Act regarding private land, land with exclusive possession native title, and non-commercial research
  • clarifying key terms in the Act that may currently cause confusion, such as the definition of commercialisation, and
  • improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the permitting and contractual framework.

To assist stakeholders to better understand key areas of reform, the following fact sheets are available:

Have your say

To comment on the options for reform you can:

  • email
  • complete the survey
  • send us a voice or video recording to  or 0436 622 321.
    (This recording does not need to be high quality – for example, it can be made using your phone)
  • post your response to:
    Biodiscovery Reform Team
    Department of Environment and Science
    PO Box 2454
    Brisbane Qld 4001.

Consultation will be open until midnight on Friday 15 February 2019.

The Queensland Government may publish submissions received. For voice or video recordings, a transcript of the recording may be published. Please state in your submission if you do not agree to publication of all or parts of your submission.

Review and government response

On 26 April 2018, the Queensland Government released an independent Statutory Review of the Biodiscovery Act 2004 (the Review) (PDF, 2.1MB) and a response (PDF, 765.8KB) to the 45 recommendations that the Review contained.

Consultation on the Review and Government Response was undertaken until 8 June 2018, and included inviting written submissions, holding information sessions and holding one-on-one discussions with stakeholders. Written submissions were received from academic and research institutions, industry and individuals.

Two of the Review’s recommendations (21 and 23) relating to downstream contracting arrangements were identified as critical by industry. In response, the Act was amended through the Gasfields Commission and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2017 No. 35.