AGRICULTURE minister David Littleproud recently established a biosecurity levy steering committee to make recommendations on the implementation of this new levy.

The Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia has a long history of working with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources on biosecurity policy.

The CBFCA is one of the peak industry associations representing service providers in international trade logistics and supply chain management, in particular those service providers who undertake border clearance activities through the departments of Home Affairs and Agriculture, these being licensed individual customs brokers or licensed corporate customs brokerages where the individual licensed customs broker is a nominee for that corporate entity.

Licensed customs brokers are accredited by DAWRS under the Broker Accreditation Scheme to undertake in co-regulatory arrangement documentation assessment activities for non-commodities/ commodities, and freight forwarders are accredited under the Approved Arrangements Scheme.

In this capacity, the CBFCA has provided commentary to a variety of Government and regulatory inquiries as to policy, equity, compliance, cost recovery and process improvement on biosecurity matters.

The CBFCA as an active member of the Department of Agriculture Cargo Consultative Committee and the Import Industry Finance Consultative Committee and works with the Department on a variety of idealistic biosecurity process outcomes, is very disappointed with the Minister and his advisors for excluding the CBFCA and other key industry associations and stakeholders from the steering committee.

What is interesting to note is the CBFCA was involved in past biosecurity import levy meetings and industry workshops but was still overlooked, despite our long history working with the Department.

During departmental workshops we often heard from industry that their preferred collection model was via the Full Import Declaration which is currently in place and is facilitated by the customs brokers and freight forwarders who pay the fees and pass on to their clients. If the new committee is to push for this collection model the CBFCA is most qualified to represent and make commentary on behalf of members. In the absence of the CBFCA we question if our specific industry sector will be appropriately represented.

The CBFCA understands that the Australia’s border biosecurity protects our food supply, agriculture industry and our way of life. However, we have concerns about whether the money collected will even be used for biosecurity, as the current cost recovered Imports Program is in desperate need of additional resources to manage the brown marmorated stink bug.

The CBFCA strongly opposes this proposed new tax as unfair, wrongly targeted and highly inefficient, however we support adequate funding for biosecurity.

The Department claims that biosecurity is a “shared responsibility”. This is often spoken about, but unfortunately not practiced enough. The CBFCA believes any additional funding should provide a modern, seamless border clearance that also manages biosecurity risks, as only in partnership with industry the biosecurity risks can be better managed.

Paul Damkjaer