Report points to way out for Biosecurity Imports Levy


Industry-led Biosecurity Levy Steering Committee says original structure is unworkable

Report points to way out for Biosecurity Imports Levy
Bridget McKenzie

 

The form of a federal government biosecurity initiative, which industries involved have roundly rejected, has foundered again in the findings of the Biosecurity Levy Steering Committee.

The Biosecurity Imports Levy: A Way Forward report was delivered more than three months ago to new federal agriculture minister senator Bridget McKenzie, who took the portfolio after the federal election.

The committee, peopled by many industry organisations that raised alarm at the p underscores the broad and private sector support for a "robust, effective and adequately funded biosecurity system".  And while most submissions view the "principal" funding responsibility to reside with taxpayers, the committee backs a fair levy on top of existing funding that is directed entirely to the task and that supports efficiency and productivity and is effective.  

In comments that will chime with in domestic freight transport and logistics sector, the committee points to glaring hole in data and analysis, saying "we kept coming back to the absence of authoritative, science-based biosecurity risk analysis across the spectrum".

"Faced with the absence of appropriate data, committee members have concluded that they are not in a position to recommend the specific elements of the levy, even though the broad structure is clear." 


Read about industry resistance to the first iteration of the proposed levy, here


McKenzie points out the on the 2017 Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity Review that recommended a broad based levy on containers

"This industry report is a critical piece of the puzzle and the government will respond in due course," she adds.

What happens next is unclear but the Australian Federation of International Forwarders (AFIF) CEO Brian Lovell, who is on the committee, reports McKenzie’s office informing him there is "still no definitive time-frame around the date of the introduction of such a levy and as the original indicative date of September 1 has since passed, it would be unlikely for the Federal Parliament to be in a position to discuss the report in the near future".

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has welcomed the Federal Government’s release of an industry-led report on the proposed Biosecurity Imports Levy, saying the Government must now commit to working cooperatively with industry on any revised proposal for a levy.

"This report backs up many of the concerns that ALC has expressed regarding the levy since it was first announced in May 2018 without any proper industry consultation," said ALC CEO Kirk Coningham.

"The Biosecurity Levy Steering Committee has backed the view that ALC and other industry participants have previously expressed – the Levy as  originally proposed was poorly designed, was not based on a full and proper consideration of biosecurity risks and provided no guarantee that revenue raised would actually be used to enhance biosecurity measures."

"It is clear from this report that there is a paucity of reliable, science-based data on relative biosecurity risk generated by the various import pathways. Rectifying this issue must be an immediate priority."

"ALC supports a robust and properly funded biosecurity protection regime for Australia. However, any Levy or similar industry contribution must be designed based on biosecurity risks, ensure any financial burden is shared by all parties contributing to those risks, and make certain that all revenue raised is directly expended on biosecurity measures."

"We are pleased that the Steering Committee has supported these principles in its recommendations to the Federal Government. We also support the call for any re-designed levy proposal to be developed in collaboration with industry and subjected to a proper Regulation Impact Statement (RIS)."

"The recommendation to appoint a high-level Biosecurity Advisory Council is an especially valuable one which would allow the Government to benefit from industry’s expertise and insights when it comes to biosecurity measures and funding.

"ALC encourages the Minister for Agriculture to adopt the Steering Committee’s recommendations, and to commit to working closely and cooperatively with industry on any re-design of the Biosecurity Imports Levy."

The full report can be found here.

More to come

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