Today Minister Littleproud has finally released the report into the chaotic and dysfunctional process undertaken to introduce the Biosecurity Imports Levy (BIL).
The BIL was announced in the 2018-19 Budget and is scheduled to deliver $325m over the forwards, but to date the Government has been unable to find a levy methodology which is supported by industry to implement, even though the department has put forward a number of different options.
The report is damning and reveals that the Morrison Government failed to properly consult with affected industries and has damaged the confidence stakeholders have in the Department of Agriculture.
The Executive Summary states that:
“The current process has alienated some critical stakeholders and there is little confidence in DAWR’s ability to manage the required processes. Many stakeholders agree that it would be desirable to have the process led by an eminent person with experience of the transport, logistics and biosecurity sectors, with support from an industry working party.”
On 24 February 2019, David Littleproud announced an industry steering committee to address the concerns stakeholders have with BIL, independent of his own department.
Biosecurity is the core responsibility for the Department of Agriculture and stakeholders should not be left frustrated and lacking in confidence with consultation processes relating to biosecurity. The Minister is ultimately responsible for the actions of his department and has failed to manage the process.
Stakeholders will be watching next week’s budget closely to see if the Government maintains the tax revenue estimated to be collected via the BIL, particularly in light of the fact that the industry steering committee is not scheduled to report back to Minister Littleproud by 1 June 2019.
Once again, the Morrison Government has kicked a problem of its own making down the road and beyond the election.