Biosecurity import levy challenged by industry

Fourteen industry organisations issue statement rejecting biosecurity levy

Biosecurity import levy challenged by industry
The new biosecurity imports levy will be applied to all imported goods as well as empty containers


A large number of Australian industry associations have come together to issue a joint statement rejecting the biosecurity levy announced in the 2018 budget that is due to be implemented July 1 this year.

As it currently stands, the biosecurity imports levy will be imposed on all imported sea containers and non-containerised cargo, with the exception of military equipment, and will be imposed on stevedores.

The levy is set at $10.02 per incoming 20-foot equivalent sea container and $1 per tonne for non-containerised cargo.

The federal government says that the levy will contribute to onshore surveillance, diagnostic, data analytics, research and adoption of new technology to help detect, identify and respond to exotic pests and diseases earlier.

The levy is to be applied to all imported goods, including building materials, fertilizer, cars, fuel and household goods. Empty containers will also be subject to the levy.

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However, the 14 organisations issuing the joint statement, which include Ports Australia, Australian Logistics Council (ALC), Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Australasian Railway Association (ARA) and Manufacturing Australia, say that the levy is "significantly flawed".

"As Australian industry participants we would like to formally register our deep concern regarding the proposed biosecurity levy and urge the Government to remove it from the 2019 Budget," they say, adding that they welcome an Industry Steering Committee to "better inform Government on improving the proposed biosecurity levy scheme design".

The joint statement says that the current proposal is flawed and fails to recognise the damage the levy would do to the competitiveness of the freight supply chain, key export industries and the cruise sector, as well as the higher costs for consumers.

The organisations’ main concerns with the process to date are, they say:

  • the rushed nature of a tax designed without fully understanding the potential for far-reaching economic consequences
  • additional and unnecessary costs – particularly to Australia’s tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, mining, energy and construction industries
  • flow-on costs to consumers
  • confusion as to why a new biosecurity tax is required over and above the federal government’s biosecurity charges that are currently in place for sea-freight (extensively reviewed in 2015–16) and the passenger movement charge for the cruise sector
  • that a biosecurity risk assessment and regulation impact statement has not been undertaken by the Australian Government to inform the development of the proposed biosecurity tax
  • a lack of clarity on how the Australian Government would collect the proposed tax;
  • no guarantee that all revenue raised by the proposed new tax would be used to support Australian biosecurity measures.

"We urge the Government to remove the proposed levy from the 2019 Budget and provide a genuine opportunity to industry to help design a fair and equitable model that improves Australia’s biosecurity ability," the statement concludes.


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