Biosecurity Roundtable Meeting Update - (IFCBAA NNF 2020/251)

As communicated in past national newsflash, to support members IFCBAA CEO Paul Damkjaer met in Canberra with Andrew Metcalfe -Secretary, Andrew Tongue - Deputy Secretary and Colin Hunter - First Assistant Secretary, Biosecurity Operations from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) to discuss the current issues and performance levels in key department groups that impact on trade facilitation at the border. At the meeting, the Secretary agreed to host a roundtable meeting to further explore short and longer-term solutions for improvements to the biosecurity systems and service.

Today our CEO, Paul Damkjaer and I along with other peak industry bodies involved in the imports program attended the first roundtable meeting hosted by Colin Hunter - First Assistant Secretary, Biosecurity Operations.  

The key issues IFCBAA raised include:

  • Assessment Service Group – entry processing delays outside client service standards.
  • Inspection Services Group – delays in inspections outside client service standards.
  • Onshore Treatment Releases – delays obtaining release directions post-treatments.
  • Client Contact Group - delays in contacting an experienced biosecurity officer to address issues.
  • Industry Engagement – more focused industry working group to identify areas for improvement to systems and service.

Based on the discussions, it is evident the DAWE budgetary constraints prevent the employment of additional resources and that the DAWE is utilising the existing resources despite the need for increased biosecurity risks like BMSB and Khapra Beetle.

We understand biosecurity system automaton and reform takes a long time that is why we recommended the following short term solution.

  • Provide better access for customs brokers to contact senior biosecurity officers to address assessment, inspection and treatment matters.
  • Automate COLS to enable customs brokers to access “self-service” function to change of inspection location, reprint of biosecurity directions and final record of service etc.. This will limit the need to call DAWE for simple functions.
  • Allow Approved Arrangement to undertake simple inspections i.e. visual and label inspection, tailgate or other inspection and sampling services.
  • During the peak period resource the assessment, inspection and treatment divisions to facilitate trade and clear the current backlog.
  • Reduce the CCV and BMSB Verification intervention and consider a reduction of intervention for high compliant importers of lower risk commodities.

Long term recommendations and solutions.

  • Undertake a Reform to modernise the end to end biosecurity system which will require funding. Digital transformation is required to be able to cope with future trade growth and increased biosecurity risks as adding just resources may not be viable for the future biosecurity system.
  • Provide a single portal for customs brokers to be able to access services limiting the need to contact biosecurity officers. Portal to provide visibility of entry status and processing.
  • Link the imports future system with the exports system providing a single window for trade.

The First Assistant Secretary, Biosecurity Operations and senior DAWE Executives are committed to working closely with IFCBAA and industry on the identified short and long term solutions.

Further meetings will be scheduled in the new year to work on these solutions and we will keep you informed of any developments.

Kind regards,  

Zoran Kostadinoski

Head of Border & Biosecurity

Regional Manager VIC|TAS |SA