Sneaky pest tax a costly bugbear
CONSUMERS will pay more for food, fridges, furniture and cars under a new “import tax” hidden in last week’s budget.
The $360 million tax grab was billed as a biosecurity crackdown — a new charge on every shipping container entering the country to stop bugs and pests from introducing disease and spoiling the local environment.
But The Daily Telegraph can reveal only a tiny fraction — $77 million — of the total funds raised over three years is actually slated to be spent on better biosecurity, leaving $290 million in extra revenue.
Retailers have united with shipping and logistics companies in branding the measure a blatant tax grab which will ultimately result in higher prices for consumers.
“If they say they are doing it for biosecurity and they don’t, that’s a bad thing. It’s just another tax grab,” said Harvey Norman boss Gerry Harvey (pictured below).
The money will be raised through a flat $10 charge on every shipping container or a $1 a tonne charge for goods not in a container. The measure will net between $110 million to $125 a year for three years.
However expenditure documents in the budget reveal only around $20 million a year is allocated for “enhancing Australia’s biosecurity”.
“At the end of the day, all of those costs get passed on (to the consumer),” Mr Harvey said.
The peak industry bodies representing ports, shipping, rail and logistics companies are calling on the Turnbull Government to come clean on what it intends to spend the extra revenue on.
“A budget that at its core promises tax cuts for all Australians will simultaneously slug Australians almost $290 million to import the goods they use every day, with no clear explanation of the biosecurity benefit,” said Rod Nairn, chief executive of the shipping industry’s peak body Shipping Australia.
Logistics council managing director, Michael Kilgariff, said: “The freight logistics sector should not be used as a ‘cash cow’ to fund unrelated Budget initiatives.”
Hit hardest by the new tax will be bulky items like imported cars and building materials, with a construction business importing 50,000 tonnes of concrete copping an additional $50,000 charge. “The levy will ripple right through the supply chain and hit the end consumer,” said Australasian Railway Association chief executive, Danny Broad.