A travel influencer was welcomed to Australia with a AU1900 ($1200) fine at Perth International Airport (PER), having accidentally brought a rose into the country.
Dubai-based Lars Laraya traveled on Qatar Airways to get to Perth. During the flight, she was given a rose by a flight attendant. Laraya even posted a photo of the rose on her Instagram story, with the words ‘Hello, Australia’, in anticipation of her arrival.
Unbeknownst to Leraya, the red rose would end up costing her $1200, the fine for not declaring a prohibited item upon entering Australia.
Australia has one of the strictest quarantine and biosecurity controls to minimize the risk of pests and disease entering the country.
Laraya said that she had been walking around Perth airport with the rose visible and in plain view, thinking she had “nothing to hide.’ Two plain clothes officers then approached her and asked for her passenger arrival card.
The card is mandatory for all arriving passengers in the country, and includes a section in which they can declare if they are bringing in any prohibited items. Australian airports also have bins where prohibited items such as plants, flowers and fruits can be deposited at the last minute prior to Immigration checks and quarantine desks.
Laraya was not aware that she was carrying a prohibited item, so she did not declare the rose.
Laraya was asked if she had filled out the landing card truthfully, and she answered yes. One of the officers then asked her whether she thought the rose came under any of the questions to which she’d answered ‘no’. Laraya told Insider that she then saw the section about plants. “So I told her, ‘Yes, I understand where you’re coming from and the rose may fit into this category of plants,'” Laraya said.
She was then fined on the spot for knowingly providing false or misleading information.