Meeting with  Secretary, Deputy and First Assistant Secretary Biosecurity Operations from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (NNF 2020/236)                            

Over the past month, the International Forwarders and Customs Brokers Association of Australia Ltd. (IFCBAA) received numerous calls from members raising concerns about the delays with entry processing, inspections and treatment releases.

To support members IFCBAA met in Canberra with Andrew Metcalfe -Secretary, Andrew Tongue - Deputy Secretary and Colin Hunter - First Assistant Secretary, Biosecurity Operations (commencing mid-December) from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (the department) to discuss the current issues and performance levels in key department groups that impact on trade facilitation at the border.

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 department’s priority is to manage the biosecurity risks and trade facilitation is secondary, however, the Secretary is willing to set up an Industry Working Group to work closely with industry to identify workable solutions.

This is a positive outcome as the Secretary listened to IFCBAA and is willing to work with us to address the issues we have highlighted.

IFCBAA understands that budgetary constraints prevent the employment of additional resources and that the department is utilising the existing resources and moving airport biosecurity officers to areas where demand for service has increased.

IFCBAA acknowledged the support and engagement via the Department’s Cargo Consultative Committee (DCCC) from the senior management and looks forward to working with the department to achieve win/win outcomes in the future, as biosecurity is a shared responsibility.

This is just the start of our advocacy for an improved end to end biosecurity systems and service. We will keep you informed of any further developments from the DCCC meetings and other Industry Working Groups.

Kind regards,

Paul Damkjaer

Chief Executive Officer