At 12:00 today the Department of Agriculture announced that the Commonwealth Government will not proceed with the New Biosecurity Levy.
The Government agreed that it will fund biosecurity adequately through budget appropriations and existing cost recovery arrangements for the Department for Agriculture.
This decision aligns with Shipping Australia’s publicly stated position that strong biosecurity benefits all Australians and is as important to Australia’s security and economic well-being as national defence. Therefore biosecurity should be properly funded via national budget appropriations with all Australians contributing through the taxation system.
Shipping Australia led broad industry opposition to the original biosecurity levy when it was announced in the Federal Budget 2018, two years ago. This levy was due to be in place by July 2019 but was finally pronounced dead in December 2019. Brigitte MacKenzie, the then Minister for Agriculture, said it would be replaced by a New Biosecurity Levy after proper industry consultation.
Shipping Australia CEO Rod Nairn said, “the New Biosecurity Levy Committee consultation process has been a credit to the Department of Agriculture. It has been a proper consultation process with the scope and purpose clearly defined and the opinions and arguments of the participants properly taken into account.”
A proposed structure and quantum for the new levy was developed by the committee. The impacts on administration and the various industry sectors were clearly explained in the papers provided to the Government.
The Government’s decision not to proceed with the levy may well also have been influenced by external factors such as the impacts of summer bushfires and COVID-19 on the budget, industry and the Australian people.
“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,” Rod Nairn concluded.