With two sitting weeks remaining until the end of the Parliamentary year, the Morrison Government has still not implemented its troubled Biosecurity Imports Levy, first promised for 1 July.
Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon said the Morrison Government had botched the Biosecurity Imports Levy, delaying its implementation as African Swine Fever advanced to Australia’s northern border.
“The Biosecurity Imports Levy was supposed to properly resource Australia’s protections against disease and pests,” said Mr Fitzgibbon. “It was booked in the 2019-20 Budget with $325 million in revenues over the forward estimates. Yet this Government doesn’t even have legislation to put before the Parliament.”
Mr Fitzgibbon said China had suffered a 40 per cent reduction in its pig herd in one year due to African Swine Fever, and the Australian pork industry could take a $2 billion hit if ASF makes it to Australia. In September alone, 48 per cent of pig products seized at our borders contained ASF fragments.
“The Chinese pig herd is being decimated and African Swine Fever is rampant in South East Asia. If it gets into Australia, 36,000 jobs in the pork industry will be threatened.”
Mr Fitzgibbon said the Biosecurity Imports Levy grew out of a 2017 review headed by Dr Wendy Craik, which found that Australia’s biosecurity risks were increasing and needed more financial resources to mitigate those risks.
“The Biosecurity Imports Levy was supposed to give our agriculture sector and our community some peace of mind for precisely the sort of outbreaks that we’re now seeing in Asia. The Levy should have been in place by now, giving frontline biosecurity workers the resources to keep our food systems clean, green and safe. ”
The Levy was included in the 2018-19 Budget Papers, with a July 1 2019 implementation date. However, following reviews by Pegasus Economics and a damning Industry Steering Committee Report, the Government put forward a new start date of 1 September 2019 in the 2019-20 Budget, which it also missed.
The Morrison Government has not provided a response to its own Industry Steering Committee Report nor has it provided any information on its website as to what is happening with the Biosecurity Imports Levy.
“The fact is the Government’s design was so bungled that it has been reviewed by both Pegasus Economics and industry steering committee and we still don’t have draft legislation to consider,” said Mr Fitzgibbon. “Prime Minister, where is the Biosecurity Imports Levy?”