RWTA reports progress on AQIS hikes


The Refrigerated Warehouse and Transport Association (RWTA) appears to have made significant headway in its battle to ameliorate swingeing quarantine fee increases. The peak organisation had reacted angrily at the end of October after increases by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) − ranging from almost 500 percent for base registration to 150 percent for the hourly rate for a meat inspector – looked set to go through with what it regarded as dysfunctional consultation and a lack of appreciation for serious impact on operators as well the viability of holding export product. The RWTA, many of whose members run truck fleets, claimed its representations have effectively been ignored.

By Rob McKay | December 7, 2011

The Refrigerated Warehouse and Transport Association (RWTA) appears to have made significant headway in its battle to ameliorate swingeing quarantine fee increases.

The peak organisation had reacted angrily at the end of October after increases by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) - ranging from almost 500 percent for base registration to 150 percent for the hourly rate for a meat inspector – looked set to go through after what it regarded as dysfunctional consultation and a lack of appreciation for serious impact on operators as well the viability of holding export product.

The RWTA, many of whose members run truck fleets, claimed its representations had effectively been ignored.

Association Executive Officer David Costelloe has since described meetings with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), as "most positive" though he has warned that this is not the end of the matter.

"I encourage all operator members to maintain pressure on their local federal member to ensure that we obtain maximum concessions from this ill-considered change," Costelloe says.

According to the Association, AQIS had admitted that the process had been flawed and would examine "without prejudice" requests including extension of the current 30 day payment period, an establishment implementation assistance package including a rebate for the establishment fee over the next three years with retrospective coverage, a reduction in inspection costs and a consultative process examining areas to cut operator costs through self-assessment rather than AQIS sign off.

All fee changes and reductions/rebates need to be approved by Agriculture Minister Bill Ludwig "but AQIS representatives are confident this will happen as an assistance package is now in place", Costelloe says.

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