HIGHER biosecurity charges for sea and air freight announced by the Department of Agricultural from 1 January 2020 are the latest in “a litany of fee increases” faced by the transport industry, the Victorian Transport Association says.

As reported by DCN, the Department of Agricultural confirmed its expansion of “cost-recovered import measures” to support Australia’s biosecurity system, with expansion amounting to an effective 15% increase in biosecurity charges to be paid by sea and air freight operators.

VTA chief executive Peter Anderson said the higher fees, following an increase to infrastructure surcharges announced last week at Melbourne’s Webb Dock, was evidence of the transport industry being beset by price hikes.

“It seems like rarely a week passes when statutory charges, fees and other costs transport operators have to pay aren’t increased, and typically exponentially higher than CPI,” Mr Anderson said.

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“We’ve seen stevedore infrastructure surcharges increase at the Port of Melbourne by over 4000% and this latest increase in biosecurity charges will inevitably flow through the supply chain to road and rail freight forwarders, who we urge to pass it on to their customers, and eventually consumers.”

Mr Anderson said transport operators could not absorb higher supply chain costs.

He was also critical of the “limited consultation” by the Department with industry leading up to the announcement.

“It is disappointing that industry has been given only two weeks’ notice of these increases, and during the busiest time of the year for freight operators leading up to Christmas, severely limiting their ability to discuss the inevitable impacts higher prices will mean for their customers,” he said. 

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