Thursday 19 March 2020
Hansard of the Legislative Council
Mr FINCH to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Mrs HISCUTT -
Three important questions on behalf of the constituents, so do not shoot the messenger.
- Is it a fact Biosecurity Tasmanian is to stop paying a share of the import cost of flowers brought here from Victoria?
- Is it true the cost has risen from $27.54 to $55.08?
- If this is the case, why has Biosecurity Tasmania stopped helping small Tasmanian florist businesses?
Mr President, I thank the member for Rosevears for his questions on behalf of his constituents. That is good to see.
- (1) In October 2019, the fees relating to Biosecurity's examination of imported goods were increased. Changes in our biosecurity risk profile meant Tasmania's biosecurity system also needed to change and adapt in order to remain effective, and to maximise the benefits gained from a robust biosecurity system.
Before the increases were implemented, a regulatory impact statement was released for public consultation in July 2019. The RIS provided complete information of the changes to fees, plus specific inspection services, and an assessment of the known impacts of the changes and the initiatives being supported to strengthen Tasmania's biosecurity systems.
The importation of commercial consignments of goods, including flowers, into the state is a significant contributor to the biosecurity risk to Tasmania, and it is reasonable the cost of the biosecurity system is shared between the beneficiaries of biosecurity and significant contributors to biosecurity risk.
- The increase in fees was kept well below direct cost and full cost-recovery levels, meaning the state still significantly subsidises the true cost of the service. Analysis undertaken by Biosecurity Tasmania found the actual direct cost, not the full cost, to be $54.19 per 15-minute inspection, which rounds out at $216.75 per hour for delivery of services, including travel time. On 2 October 2019 the fees for biosecurity inspections on a weekday in working hours were increased from $19.44 per 15 minutes to $27.54 per 15 minutes. A typical cut flower consignment will be charged a fee of 30 minutes, consisting of a paperwork check and a physical inspection of cut flowers. This means the fees have increased for a typical cut flower consignment from $38.88 to $55.08.
- The state is committed to working with stakeholders to minimise the impact the increasing fees may have. If any businesses feel they have been unreasonably impacted, they should contact Biosecurity Tasmania to discuss their situation.