Biosecurity levy plan enrages transport and industry groups

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An alliance of transport and industry groups has come out swinging against the federal government’s planned biosecurity levy to be implemented in July, saying it is significantly flawed.

“As Australian industry participants we formally register our deep concern regarding the proposed biosecurity levy and urge the government to remove it from the 2019 Budget,” a statement from the group announced.

The stance is being taken by peak organisations ranging from Fertilizer Australia and the Australasian Rail Association, to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Freight Trade Alliance and the Australian Logistics Council.

Other participants include the cement industry, the cruise line sector and Ports Australia.

“The protection of our natural and agricultural assets is vital to this country from both an environmental and financial perspective,” the statement said.

“The industries represented in this statement are part of Australia’s biosecurity system and take their roles seriously.

“This is why we believe in impactful and informed solutions to strengthening Australia’s biosecurity system.”

Industry’s main concerns with the process to date were:

  • 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 Australian 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; and
  • 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 lobby group said.

Participants welcomed the government’s recognition on the need for an industry steering committee to better inform government on improving the proposed Biosecurity levy scheme design.

This announcement acknowledged the current proposal was flawed and failed to recognise the damage the levy would do to the competitiveness of the freight supply chain, key export industries and the cruise sector, or the higher costs for consumers.

“While no announcement has been made regarding the membership of this committee or its terms of reference, it is essential that participants represent all industry groups who form part of Australia’s biosecurity and that this committee be given enough time to consider and present a workable proposal for the Government’s consideration.

Originally published via Good Fruit and Vegetables.

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