Business as usual not an option for biosecurity


NSW Farmers has expressed its disappointment that the Australian Government will not pursue implementation of the biosecurity import levy. 

Ian McColl, Chair of NSW Farmers’ Biosecurity Committee, said the decision means there will be uncertainty about long-term sustainable funding mechanisms for the biosecurity system. 

“Agricultural industries welcomed the announcement of the levy in 2018 to ensure our biosecurity resources could cope with increased movement of goods,” Mr McColl said.

“We’re now seriously concerned that the federal government has no plans to reduce the pressure on our overstretched system, which is especially important as we face threats such as Coronavirus, African swine fever and fall armyworm.

“Business as usual is not an option.”

Mr McColl said the Minister for Agriculture needed to demonstrate how ongoing funding through existing arrangements would support implementation of the recommendations from the 2017 Independent review of the capacity of Australia’s biosecurity system.

“We were pleased to see the Australian Government prioritising biosecurity over recent years. Yesterday’s decision to abandon the biosecurity levy is a step in the wrong direction.

“Governments need to commit to shared responsibility. It’s not just a concept to use when convenient; it’s the cornerstone of our modern biosecurity system. Those who create biosecurity risks should be asked to invest in the management of those risks.” 

Mr McColl said the 2017 review of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity found that government funding for biosecurity had general been static or in decline, and that new mechanisms were required.

“We urge the Minister to develop alternative options for increasing biosecurity funding,” Mr McColl said. 

“Industry has waited for action on the import levy for two years – we can’t afford to stall on funding any longer.” 

Date: Thursday 21 May 2020
Media Contact:  Michael Burt  | 0428 228 988 | burtm@nswfarmers.org.au