The Morrison Government still can’t implement its Biosecurity Imports Levy, two years after an independent review called for a revamp of Australia’s biosecurity arrangements.
Today Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie announced yet another committee – Biosecurity Futures – to advise on “industry intelligence, advice and ideas on biosecurity matters”.
“The Morrison Government loves a committee and today’s announcement simply highlights the fact that Australia still lacks a biosecurity system capable of meeting current and growing threats and risks,” said Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon.
“The independent Craik Review told the Government in 2017 that Australia had an expanding biosecurity task and that a new levy was required to resource a system that is fit-for-purpose,” said Mr Fitzgibbon.
“More than two years later, we still haven’t seen legislation for the Biosecurity Imports Levy. The best the Minister can do is to form another committee.
“Dr Craik made it clear that Australia’s biosecurity system needed to be better resourced and required additional funding. This is like an episode of Utopia, with the Minister sitting at her desk trying to come up with ideas to give the appearance that she is actually doing something.”
Mr Fitzgibbon said the Government’s first iteration of a Biosecurity Imports Levy had been criticised by a Pegasus Economics report and by an Industry Steering Committee Report, which was released to the Government in June, and to which the Government has still not responded.
He said with diseases such as African Swine Fever wiping-out the pig herds of Asia, and threatening to decimate our $2.8 billion local pork industry if it reaches Australia, the Minister must put its Biosecurity Imports Levy to the Parliament and implement the best system to protect our food production sector.
“The Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie needs to be more urgent about Australia’s biosecurity. She’s had enough time, and she’s already had input from industry via the Steering Committee Report. The Australian community and our agriculture sector need a modern biosecurity system, not another committee.”
The eight-person industry Biosecurity Futures group will be chaired by the Minister and meet twice a year.