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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’.”

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