Centralized quarantine, tax refunds announced in Australian budget - FreshFruitPortal.com

Centralized quarantine, tax refunds announced in Australian budget

Centralized quarantine, tax refunds announced in Australian budget

The Australian Government has announced it will provide AUD$379 million (US$380 million) in funding for a post-entry quarantine (PEQ) facility in Melbourne for high risk plant and animal imports.

In the latest budget it was announced  the funding would be provided over seven years, with the aim of replacing the current PEQ facilities with a sustainable, reliable facility that adopts modern technology and operating practices.

In a statement, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) said the new facility would continue to operate in line with existing import policies.

"The consolidation of services and integration of activities should lead to efficiencies and the adoption of modern management practices, but these will meet the same import policies and will not consider a review of the policies," the statement said.

"This measure only applies to existing Commonwealth post entry quarantine functions, with plant imports currently coming through the Eastern Creek and Knoxfield facilities being directed to the new facility when complete."

DAFF said private sector PEQ operations were outside the scope of the new measure and would not be affected.

The budget also included funding of AUD$95.9 million (US$96.2 million) over seven years towards the eradication of significant agricultural, environmental, animal and plant pests and diseases.

Over the next two financial years this will include AUD$20.9 million towards the eradication of Branched Broomrape, Cocoa Pod Borer, Red Imported Fire Ants, Electric Ants, Chestnut Blight, four tropical weeds, Siam Weed, and low pathogenic avian influenza.

A helping hand for growers

Produce Marketing Association (PMA) CEO Michael Worthington has applauded the budget measure to allow companies to carry-back their losses, highlighting that refunds from taxes paid over the previous year could help many struggling Australian fresh produce companies.

"The fresh fruit, vegetable and floral industry has had a horror year, with low prices, weak consumer demand, dismal export returns and high operating costs, and many companies are now trading in the red," he said.

"Being able to claim up to AUD$300,000 (US$301,172) [on eligible losses of AUD$1 million] from tax paid the previous year will definitely be a help to these companies."

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