Government misses second biosecurity levy deadline

Beef Central, 02/09/2019

OPPOSITION Agriculture Spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon has accused the Morrison Government of dragging the chain on ensuring biosecurity protections for agriculture are adequately resourced.

Joel Fitzgibbon addressing a Rural Press Club of Queensland event earlier this year.

In a media statement he said the Federal Government has now missed two key deadlines to introduce a new biosecurity levy to improve resourcing of biosecurity protections.

Mr Fitzgibbon said biosecurity should a priority for every Government’s agriculture policy, noting that the Craik Review into Australia’s biosecurity system said it was at risk of failing without additional resources.

“A new import levy was recommended to close the gap between risk and resourcing, but that was July 2017 and we are still waiting,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“After a long delay, the Government said it would introduce the levy by July 1, 2019. It missed the deadline. Then it said it would be operating on September 1.

“Today it has again missed that deadline. It still doesn’t have a levy model industry can support, and there is still no draft Bill.

He said the Government did not have a Draft Bill for Parliamentary consideration in place, yet projected revenues from the levy were booked in the 2019-20 Budget.

“The Morrison Government has broken a promise that could have grave consequences for consumers, food manufacturers and farmers. The need for a forward-looking biosecurity system is well-documented and has the support of the agriculture sector, the Opposition and the Australian public.”

Mr Fitzgibbon said the Government tried to spread the levy too wide and on to low-risk importers such as the petroleum and cement industries. By proposing to impose the levy on the basis of cargo weight, the lowest-risk importers would be made to pay the largest biosecurity levies.

He said this approach undermined a major point of the expert Craik Review, which said the new system should be evidence-based and targeted at risk.

Following industry pushback against the original levy model, the Government commissioned an Industry Steering Committee to advise on a better model. But while the Steering Committee delivered its report to the Minister in May of this year, the Minister had still not responded to its recommendations, Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Earlier article:


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