OPPOSTION infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese has hit out at the government over its handling of the proposed biosecurity levy, describing the controversial policy as “a revenue grab”.

Mr Albanese, a former minister, was a keynote speaker at the Australian Logistics Council Forum 2019, held in the conference facilities at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

He noted the levy arose from the review of the inter-governmental agreement on biosecurity.

“The review proposed a levy of $10 on all shipping containers to take effect from July 1,” Mr Albanese told the gathering.

“But the government is attempting to impose a general import levy based upon volume on all shipping movements – this appears to be a revenue grab,” he said.

“It has created understandable concern about whether the money collected will even be used for biosecurity because of course, it is no hypothecated – no tax ever really is.”

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Mr Albanese said biosecurity was important and had to be paid for.

“But the government has completely botched this process by failing to consultant or produce a regulatory impact statement.”

Agriculture minister David Littleproud this week announced the composition of a steering committee to examine the levy and its implementation.

Mr Albanese also criticised the government over inland rail, accusing it of failing to include the cost of the 38-kilometre Acacia Ridge – Port of Brisbane section. He reiterated Labor plans to revitalise Australian-flagged shipping and an Australian-flagged fleet of tankers to provide fuel security.

The proposed levy would be imposed on all cargo imported to Australia by sea. The government proposes to charge $10.02 per TEU and $1 per tonne for non-containerised cargo.

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