Container levy a must for biosecurity
Australia’s largest farm advocacy body is calling on the federal government to make importers pay a container levy to boost biosecurity efforts.
NSW Farmers said it would revive the campaign for an Onshore Biosecurity Levy – ditched by the previous federal government – which would see importers shoulder their share of the biosecurity burden.
“There’s no second chances when it comes to biosecurity,” NSW Farmers Biosecurity chair Ian McColl said.
“A single, widespread disease outbreak could cause billions of dollars in economic loss, not to mention extensive damage to our agricultural and native plants and animals.
“We need to strengthen our borders against threats, and we need to ensure state and federal departments and authorities are properly resourced to prevent – and respond if need be – to pest and disease outbreaks.” Ian McColl NSW Farmers Biosecurity chair said.
It came after federal police and biosecurity officials seized 38 tonnes of illegally imported turtle meat, frog meat, plant products, avian meat, pig meat, beef meat, and raw prawns that could potentially harbour several devastating diseases.
With NSW the destination for half of all imports, Mr McColl said more needed to be done to keep the state safe from illegal black-market material while securing access to export markets.
“We welcome the NSW Agriculture Minister’s commitment to biosecurity, but it’s clear there needs to be a dramatic increase in resources at a state and federal level to inspect incoming freight and parcels,” Mr McColl said.
“We support the concept of biosecurity as a shared responsibility – those who create biosecurity risks should invest in prevention and management of those risks – and we believe a ‘container levy’ is a simple way to help fund these increased efforts.
“A container levy is one of the most effective and sustainable ways of fostering a strong biosecurity system, as it requires the user who creates a risk to pay for it, and means funding isn’t at the whim of the government of the day.”