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FTA / APSA meeting with the Deputy Secretary - Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment


On Friday 17 June 2022, A privilege of a bi-lateral meeting, a valuable 45 minute engagement addressing key high level discussion points. was given to meet Col Hunter (First Assistant Secretary Biosecurity Operations Division), Andrew Patterson (Assistant Secretary Cargo Ops and Regulatory Assurance) and Chris Locke, the new Deputy Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (to be renamed the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry from 1 July 2022 ) which offers opportunity to introduce Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) and the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) to the Deputy Secretary.


• The Deputy Secretary has been well briefed to have a better understanding of the current challenges faced by the industry, that although there is an unquestionable priority to safeguard against Biosecurity risks, there is an equivalent need to facilitate legitimate trade through ongoing reform;


• That current delays in inspections / bookings are contributing to significant costs to importers in storage, servicing contractual agreements to customers and container detention charges administered by foreign owned shipping lines;


• The service delays are spilling over and creating angst between industry and departmental officers – whilst any unprofessional engagement is unacceptable, it is a symptom of problems being experienced;


• Onshore treatments are struggling to keep up with demand – shipping capacity restraints appears to lead some importers to grab available slots and look to complete onshore treatment;


• Industry can be innovative in terms of new ways in doing things, but we need to have some parameters on boundaries and "non-negotiables"; and


• The Biosecurity Innovation Program project in progress between the department and FTA (proof of concept for a CTU Code App) has been an extremely positive experience - more work is to be completed in coming months on incentives for uptake - likelihood it will be showcase reform that can be achieved via a genuine co-design process.


SHORT TERM INITIATIVES ARE AS FOLLOWS:


• AEPCOMM – example provided on "heavy-handed" compliance – need to have a "carrot" as well as a "stick" to incentivise uptake – a strong compliance regime is imperative but needs to fair, consistent and reasonable;

• 14.4 RURAL TAILGATES – Approved Arrangement requires fast-track implementation to provide immediate relief – imports to rural locations expected to significantly increase for infrastructure and renewable energy projects;

• Australian International Movers Association – personal effects – Andrew Patterson committed to follow up on 2018 trial Approved Arrangement;

• GREEN LANE – requires fast-track to facilitate release for highly compliant importers;

• INSPECTIONS PORTAL - low uptake appears to be caused by the need for personal My Gov accounts – potential review of authentication options; and

• COST RECOVERY – adjustments to cost recovery could be accepted if it can be demonstrated to directly reflect improved services and / or incentivise more efficient processes – Full Import Declaration is a preferred option with importers paying at a net rate.


Despite the concluded meeting offers an ongoing direct engagement, the reality is that ongoing delays can be expected until additional resources and reforms are deployed.


For the foreseeable future, it is highly recommended that importers factor in additional landed costs to accommodate Biosecurity processing and broader logistics operational delays.

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