SENIOR bureaucrats from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources have been grilled over container fumigation delays and related container detention charges.
The occasion was the CBFCA Victorian Regional Convention at Crown Promenade, Melbourne, and in the hot seat was DAWRS inspections services group director Malcolm Keen.
The issue has returned to prominence with the necessity of treating containers for brown marmorated stink bugs.
A customs broker asked Mr Keen about whether there had been research done with fumigators about delays in treating containers and “also to impress upon shipping companies where container detention charges have ‘gone through the roof’ because of the delays at the fumigators’ premises and the costs”.
Mr Keen said there was “a recognised risk” with the fumigation and “we certainly looked to engage with as many industry (players) as particular to that area of business as we possibly could to get them ready for it”.
“Also talk to them about how we may be able to work more efficiently with them in order to ensure where that intervention is required, we are doing everything we possibly can to make sure that’s effective and efficient as possible,” he said.
One broker suggested releasing “something that we can pass on to the importers, from government, to show them that there really were delays at fumigators’ premises and the instances of higher levels of container detention waiting for fumigators to do this service that was required was actually real and not something that was fabricated by ‘low-life customs brokers’?”
The latter comment prompted a round of laughs.
“I absolutely think we can take that on notice and definitely do that,” Mr Keen responded.
“Where we have had engagement in particular with brokers that were experiencing that from their clients, I myself… made sure I was available to engage with those clients.
“You can certainly explain to those clients that there was heightened intervention in particular to that.”