Labor’s Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Joel Fitzgibbon, has warned the Government against playing Russian roulette with biosecurity, as African Swine Fever looms in our region.
With African Swine Fever confirmed in East Timor and other countries in North and Southeast Asia, the Coalition is still unable to implement its new Biosecurity Imports Levy system, said Mr Fitzgibbon.
The Biosecurity Imports Levy was introduced in the 2018 Budget and was supposed to generate over $300 million of much-needed revenue for an expanding biosecurity task.
“The African Swine Fever threat at our doorstep highlights the game of Russian roulette the Government is playing with our biosecurity defences,” said Mr Fitzgibbon. “It’s now two years since the Craik review warned that more money would be needed to defend our borders and recommended an import levy be struck to provide additional funding. Yet despite Opposition support, the Government has been unable to deliver a levy.
“More than $20 million has been lost since the Government failed to meet its own July 1 start date for the new levy. The clock is ticking.”
Mr Fitzgibbon said the Government bungled the Biosecurity Imports Levy by failing to properly consult with industry, being unfair about which importers would pay the Levy, and designing the Levy as a revenue measure rather than as a risk-targeted biosecurity system.
“There is no draft legislation for us to consider and the biosecurity system is under-resourced. Minister McKenzie has sent Border Force detection dogs to Darwin, but does that weaken our defences in other ports of entry? We have learned that Darwin International Airport didn’t have detection dogs until this week – can Minister McKenzie confirm that Border Force has enough detection dogs to enforce our biosecurity measures at every Australian port of entry?”
The Government has forecast that one-quarter of the world’s pig herd will have to be destroyed this year because of African Swine Fever, posing a threat to Australia’s pork industry which employs 34,000 people