THE Australian government will not proceed with a revised or ‘new’ biosecurity levy, it has been confirmed.

An original levy was due to be in place by July 2019 but was terminated in December 2019 amidst industry opposition.

Then agriculture minister Bridget MacKenzie said it would be replaced by a new biosecurity levy after consultation, but that proposal too has found its way to the undertaker.

In a statement, the Department of Agriculture said a consultation process highlighted a levy could not be implemented without significant regulatory impacts.

“This decision has also been made in consideration of the ongoing impacts of drought, bushfires and COVID-19 on the Australian economy and the rapidly changing global trade environment,” the Department statement read.

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“The department would like to thank the Industry Working Group and other stakeholders who provided valuable input and feedback on the proposed levy design.

“A levy will not be progressed and this decision will not impact on the overall biosecurity budget.”

According to the Department, Australia’s biosecurity system is to continue to be funded through existing arrangements.

“The department will continue to work with industry and the government to ensure Australia’s biosecurity system manages the risks of pests and diseases now and into the future,” the Departmental statement read.

Shipping Australia CEO Rod Nairn. Credit: Jim Wilson/DCN

Shipping Australia CEO Rod Nairn said the New Biosecurity Levy Committee consultation process had been “a credit to the Department of Agriculture”.

“It has been a proper consultation process with the scope and purpose clearly defined,” Mr Nairn said.

“It is the right decision. It is the same decision that Shipping Australia proposed in June 2018.  It is the decision that we have argued for throughout this two year process.”

Ports Australia CEO Mike Gallacher also praised the decision.

“Ports Australia congratulates the Department of Agriculture on their decision to drop the proposed new biosecurity levy, a decision reflecting their engaged consultation with industry,” Mr Gallacher said.

Ports Australia CEO Mike Gallacher. Credit: DCN

“A major concern with its announcement in 2018 was the lack of engagement with industry, which prompted Ports Australia to join forces with other industry leaders to call for clarification and consultation.

“The right decision has been made and Ports Australia is proud to have been part of the process.”

ALC CEO Kirk Congingham said the announcement vindicated “the strong stance” ALC and other industry groups took against this policy proposal.

“ALC supports a robust and properly funded biosecurity protection regime for Australia,” Mr Coningham said.

“However, policy responses must be designed based on biosecurity risks, ensure any financial burden is shared by all parties contributing to those risks, and make certain that all revenue raised is directly expended on biosecurity measures.”

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