Biosecurity levy must not go ahead: industry

Australian industry groups have joined together rejecting the flawed biosecurity levy. They have issued the following statement:
The Australian Government announced a biosecurity levy in the 2018 budget due to be implemented this July that 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.
Industry welcomes 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 is acknowledgement 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.
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.
To ensure the Committee has flexibility in developing a fair and equitable model, it is therefore imperative that this Biosecurity Levy be removed from the 2019 Budget to enable this work to be completed.
The protection of our natural and agricultural assets is vital to this country from both an environmental and financial perspective. The industries represented in this statement are part of Australia’s biosecurity system and take their roles seriously. Which is why we believe in impactful and informed solutions to strengthening Australia’s biosecurity system.
Industry’s main concerns with the process to date are:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Biosecurity Levy: $360m ‘cash grab’

The Australian Logistics Council, Australasian Railway Association, Ports Australia and Shipping Australia have joined together to call for clarification of how the Biosecurity Levy, announced by the Australian Government in the Federal Budget, will operate. Particularly how the generated revenue will be spent.
The proposed Biosecurity Import Levy will charge $10.02 per incoming container and $1 per tonne of non-containerised cargo, generating an estimated revenue of $360 million.
Ports Australia chief executive Mike Gallacher said: “Our concern is that this import levy has been announced with almost no engagement with the supply chain and with no plan on how it will be used in the biosecurity system.
“The complete lack of detail on this ambiguous proposal lends weight to the impression that it is a broad import levy across all goods coming into the country.
“The revenue measure estimates $360 million over three years. Only $76.6 million of this is will be spent enhancing Australia’s biosecurity system over the same period.
“That leaves $283.4 million unaccounted for.
“The Port sector has stringent biosecurity measures and will always continue to leverage our expert capabilities to meet the Australian Government’s objectives on biosecurity.
“Australians use and interact with the supply chain every day, from food to cars furniture to building materials it is essential for day to day life. Yet there has been virtually no engagement on this plan for a blanket charge on imported goods moving through the supply chain.”
The shipping industry’s peak body Shipping Australia Limited chief executive Rod Nairn said: “A budget that at its core promises tax cuts for all Australians will simultaneously slug Australians almost $290 million to import the goods they use every day, with no clear explanation of the biosecurity benefit.
“If $360 million is needed to protect Australia’s unique environmental assets than there should be a plan detailing precisely what the money is paying for and how the government arrived at the figure.
“This is another example where one sector of the supply chain is being forced to fund something that is not directly related. As things stand, this levy measure currently has no clarity, no plan and no purpose.”
Australian Logistics Council managing director Michael Kilgariff said: “Measures in the Budget are expected to be accurately costed. There should be no exception for this one.
“Until such details are made clear, a broad charge on every item imported from another country simply cannot be justified. The freight logistics sector should not be used as a ‘cash cow’ to fund unrelated Budget initiatives.
“Not only will everyday consumers be impacted by this measure on containerised goods, but anyone importing non-container goods will pay $1 a tonne.
“That means a construction business importing 50,000 tonnes of concrete will now have to pay an additional $50,000. Imagine the impact such a measure will have on infrastructure costs.”
Australasian Railway Association chief executive Danny Broad said: “The proposed levy is a significant issue for ARA members and everyday Australians. The levy will ripple right through the supply chain and hit the end consumer. Every product that comes through our ports, onto our rail networks and delivered to the consumers will feel the effects of this levy.
“Industry is committed to continue working with the Government cooperatively to enhance biosecurity.
“However, urgent clarification and rationale is needed on the details of this new levy, which is being imposed with almost no consultation with those it will affect the most.”
Road transporters fear they’ll be the collecting agency, again
Peak body Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) has described the new Biosecurity Levy on cargo as a re-run of the crippling port surcharges already imposed on truck operators.
RFNSW today joined supply chain stakeholders in calling for further details from the Federal Government on the justification for the new levy.
“From our perspective, it’s a re-run of the port infrastructure surcharges which have been slapped on truck operators with no consultation, no explanation and certainly no justification. Nothing more than a blatant cash grab,” RFNSW’s chief executive officer Simon O’Hara said.
“Of the $360 million raised through the Biosecurity Levy, it’s estimated that only $76.6 million is actually being spent on biosecurity – that’s why it’s only fair and reasonable that our industry stakeholders are calling on the Government to explain where the rest of the money will be used.
“Undoubtedly, such a blanket surcharge, like the port infrastructure taxes imposed on truckies, will simply be added to goods all through the supply chain.
“Everyone in the freight logistics sector will be hit, and hurt, by this new tax.
“Our members, who are already struggling to operate on increasingly tight margins as a result of the port taxes imposed by stevedores, are going to be impacted. And ultimately, so will Australian consumers who will be paying more for their imported goods.
“RFNSW joins the Australian Logistics Council, Australasian Railway Association, Ports Australia and Shipping Australia in raising our concerns about this new import tax and calling on the government to give us a ‘please explain’.”
 

©2019 All Rights Reserved. MHD Magazine is a registered trademark of Prime Creative Media.