Biosecurity Charges Increase from 1 January 2020 - Biosecurity Imports Levy and African Swine Fever Update  

As advised in last week's AFIF Weekly News, AFIF as a member of the Biosecurity Imports Levy Steering Committee met with the Minister for Agriculture, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, to obtain an update on the progress of the Biosecurity Imports Levy (BIL). The Minister reaffirmed the government’s commitment to introduce the BIL as a means to better fund the departments activities, including combatting biosecurity threats and emerging risks, such as BMSB and African Swine Fever.

Today the Minister has announced that the Government will not be proceeding with the Biosecurity Imports Levy as announced in the 2018-19 Budget. Instead the way forward will include expanded cost recovery fees and charges from 1 January 2020 and an alternative Biosecurity levy will be developed in consultation with industry.

An industry working group will be established to work with the Department of Agriculture and advise the Minister for Agriculture in the design and implementation of an alternative biosecurity levy.

Cost Recovery Charges Increases Effective 1 January 2020

The government has decided to expand the types of biosecurity activities to be cost recovered under the Australian Government Cost Recovery Guidelines. This includes biosecurity assurance, analytics and risk mitigation activities. These are critical to managing the risks posed by goods and vessels coming into the country.

The government’s decision includes increasing the following charges:

  • Full Import Declaration charge—air from $33 to $38.
  • Full Import Declaration charge—sea from $42 to $49.
  • Vessels greater than or equal to 25 metres—arrival charge from $920 to $1054.
  • Vessels less than 25 metres—arrival charge from $100 to $120.

DoA Notice - 211-2019 - Changes to biosecurity cost recovery  

Announcement Minister for Agriculture, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie

Stepping up biosecurity defences to safeguard Australia

The Australian Government has boosted biosecurity funding by $66.6 million to arrest the threat posed to Australia by the global advance of African swine fever (ASF).

Minister for Agriculture, Bridget McKenzie, said the government’s focus was on keeping ASF out of Australia and the extra funding would put more officers, detector dogs and state-of-the-art x-ray machines on the front line.

“If this disease gets in it could decimate our pork industry that contributes $5.2 billion to our farmers’ hip pockets, regional economies and the nation’s bottom line,” Minister McKenzie said.

“Our agricultural sector, already battling drought, can’t afford to take a hit of that magnitude.

“We export 70 per cent of what we grow and we’re in demand internationally because of our reputation for safe, clean and green food and fibre – a reputation built on our pest and disease free status.

“Right now the threat is ASF – there’s no cure, no vaccine and about a quarter of the world’s pigs have been wiped out because of it.”

Measures funded through the ASF Response Package:

  • 130 more frontline biosecurity officers will start to be deployed from January 2020 to do half a million more passenger screenings a year
  • Six new detector dogs to be deployed at airports and mail centres by July 2020
  • Two new 3D x-ray machines at Melbourne and Sydney mail centres to be deployed by July 2020
  • Biosecurity officers will have a new capability to issue infringement notices on the spot at airports.
  • A new biosecurity squad will be established onshore to check products brought into Australia for sale aren’t fraudulently labelled.
  • Zoning arrangements will be developed to help support continued market access for our pork producers should the unthinkable happen and ASF reaches a part of Australia.

“While our efforts are focused on meeting the ASF threat now, there are many other pests and diseases that could hurt our agricultural sector, our human health and our unique environment if they get past our borders.

“The task of maintaining biosecurity is growing and resourcing is not keeping pace.”

In the past nine years international passenger numbers have increased by 60 per cent, shipping cargo has increased by 30 per cent and international mail items have increased by 170 per cent – and we expect that growth to continue.

“The government is also proceeding with a biosecurity levy, in line with our commitment made in May 2018 and will legislate it next year. The new levy model will be developed in consultation with the importing industry and will be applied onshore to importers who use the biosecurity system.”

More information about Australia’s biosecurity system is available on the department’s website.

Minister’s Announcement - Stepping up biosecurity defences to safeguard Australia

Biosecurity Levy Information - https://www.agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity-levy

AFIF Comment

AFIF has advocated since the original announcement of the proposed Biosecurity Imports Levy, that the funds raised need to be directed to fully fund the Department of Agriculture’s activities in combatting biosecurity threats, current and emerging, especially in the area of additional resources for inspections and assessment services.

AFIF and other members of the BIL Steering Committee, constituted in March 2019, contended that the original BIL model was flawed and provided a number of recommendations in its Final Report to the Minister in May 2019.

AFIF is pleased that the Minister has accepted the advice of the Steering Committee and will consult further with industry on the design and implementation of an alternative biosecurity levy.

AFIF will keep members informed of progress.                                     

Regards

AFIF Team