THIS year’s federal budget contains some bright spots for the shipping and logistics industry, with commitments for infrastructure and program funding, but there are also some extra costs.
Starting on 1 July 2019, port operators will be charged a $10.02 levy per “twenty foot container (or equivalent)” and $1 per tonne of non-containerised cargo.
The government estimates it will generate $360m in fiscal balance terms over the forward estimates period. The funds are to be invested in measures to “help detect, identify and respond to exotic pests and diseases earlier”.
Air cargo security is set to tighten with $293.6m allocated over four years to strengthen air cargo and international mail security, in addition, $121m will be going to increasing inbound cargo screening and $122m to increasing ABF and AFP officers at airports.
Also in the budget is $10.5m to “transform and modernise” Australia’s international trade supply chain by completing a business case for the “single window” for international trade documentation, aimed at creating a “seamless, digital, automated and user-friendly” system.
In a statement, the Export Council of Australia pointed out that the funding for a business case was “slow progress given that implementing a single window was a 2016 election commitment”.
Also, in the new budget was a statement saying Australian Trusted Traders would not be required to produce country of origin documentation for goods imported under “certain free trade arrangements” – just which FTAs will be covered was not specified.
The 2018-19 budget also commits $300,000 to develop options for additional cruise ship berths in Sydney.
The Australian Logistics Council welcomed many of the commitments in the budget, including $400m for the duplication of the Port Botany freight rail line.
The Council also lauded the expansion of the Urban Congestion Fund as a “welcome step”.
“Urban road congestion is not just an irritation for commuters in Australia’s major cities, but it has an enormous impact on the efficiency and cost of road freight movement,” ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff said.
ALC also noted the investments in the budget to upgrade key freight routes through the $3.5bn Roads of Strategic Importance initiative.
“However, ALC regrets that the Government has not taken the opportunity to establish a dedicated Freight Strategy and Planning Division within the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities,” Mr Kilgariff said.
“Such a body is essential to ensure that the movement of freight is effectively monitored, analysed and prioritised in policy-making.”