Escalation of Biosecurity Protection Levy (BPL) three-point plan - FTA / APSA advocacy for DAFF document assessment relief & regulation of unfair commercial charging practices

Monday, March 4, 2024

Modernising the agricultural levies; Three-point Plan .pdf

There has been much controversy about the Federal Government's proposed introduction of a producer contribution to the Biosecurity Protection Levy (BPL).
In response, Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) and the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) have prepared a detailed "Position Paper" elaborating on our three-point plan referenced in last week's member notice, recommending the Federal Government: 
  1. does not proceed with the complex proposed levy against producers ($47.5m being 6% of the budgeted BPL);
  2. increase the Full Import Declarations (FID) cost recovery to recoup the above $47.5m shortfall, and additional funds to address interim remedial action to support import processing until additional permanent resources and benefits of modernised systems are realised; and
  3. offset the increased FID cost recovery impost on importers, by regulating against the current incontestable stevedore and empty container park Terminal Access Charge (TAC) regime, currently costing importers and exporters an estimated $850m per annum. 
This plan is supported by many producer groups with direct reference from the National Farmers Federation – refer HERE
  • The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) use labour intensive processes with biosecurity officers physically assessing import documentation and selecting consignments on a set criterion for inspection. It is a broken and hopelessly outdated system unable to keep pace with increases and changing patterns of international trade – DAFF are unable to recruit and train staff quick enough to keep up with demand and despite the best efforts of management and existing frontline officers, industry is paying a heavy price.
  • This is causing significant delays for importers to gain release of cargo resulting in breaches in commercial contractual arrangements, adding to storage costs and generating exorbitant container detention fees administered by and payable to foreign owned shipping lines.
  • Making matters worse, stevedores and empty container parks are ramping up their 'ransom model' forcing transport operators to pay designated fees or be denied access to container collection and dispatch facilities. It is not sustainable for our exporters and importers to absorb this rapidly increasing impost of hundreds of millions of dollars annually whereby they cannot influence service or price.
  • The scourge of TACs, combined with the biosecurity processing delays, is resulting in rapidly escalating supply chain costs adding to inflationary pressures and fueling the cost-of-living crisis.
  • FTA acknowledges that DAFF is co-designing solutions with industry and notes the significant financial commitment from the federal government to modernise systems. These longer-term strategies have the potential to set a benchmark of global best practice in safeguarding against biosecurity risk whilst facilitating legitimate trade. Whilst applauding and supporting these initiatives, we need the federal government to introduce immediate relief measures.
  • We well and truly understand the need to protect against biosecurity risks and would be prepared to pay an additional levy or cost recovery fee on the proviso that an appropriate proportion directly translates to commensurate improved and immediate trade facilitation measures.


Paul Zalai - Director FTA | Secretariat APSA | Director GSF