Animal Health Australia and Plant Health Australia membership levies
Biosecurity levies can be used to meet membership subscriptions to Plant Health Australia (PHA) and Animal Health Australia (AHA) and broader plant and animal biosecurity projects can also be funded by levies in some instances.
The role of AHA and PHA is to facilitate a national approach to enhancing Australia’s animal and plant health status, through government and industry partnerships for pest and disease preparedness, prevention, emergency response and management.
The Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD), managed by PHA and the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA), managed by AHA, outline responsibilities and activities in the event of an incursion.
A number of industry bodies are signatory to the agreements but do not yet have an emergency response levy in place.
Emergency animal disease responses
Emergency response levies are a key element of Australia’s national biosecurity system. They allow industry parties to raise funds to contribute to national cost-shared eradication responses to pest and disease incursions.
Under the emergency response deeds, emergency response levies provide a funding mechanism to cover industry's share of any exotic pest or disease eradication program. Generally set at zero ($0), emergency response levies are activated in the event of an incursion of an exotic plant or animal pest or disease, to which an eradication response is agreed to by industry members of PHA.
The Australian Government may initially meet an industry's cost-sharing obligations for an eradication response, but the relevant industry will then repay the government within a reasonable time period - generally up to 10 years.
Arrangements for activating emergency response levies
A streamlined process for activating or amending emergency response levies was introduced on 1 November 2015. The process, detailed in the flowchart below, allows consultation to take the form of a public notification process followed by an objection period of 30 days. Industry bodies must show levy payers concerns have been dealt with and must address any objections before progressing the emergency response levy.
The streamlined consultation process recognises that industry support for an emergency response levy, and its intended activation when required, was demonstrated at the introduction of the levy.
Industry bodies are welcome, and encouraged, to consult with the department, Animal Health Australia or Plant Health Australia when considering any changes to levies. General enquiries and more information on the levy processes and requirements can be made at Levies Management.
Flowchart PDF [77 KB, 1 page]
Questions and answers
What is an emergency response deed?
The emergency response deeds are formal legally binding agreements between the Australian Government, all state and territory governments, Plant Health Australia or Animal Health Australia and plant and animal industry signatories covering the management and funding of responses to pest and disease incursions.
The deeds provide a formal role for industry to participate and assume a greater responsibility in decision making in relation to emergency plant and animal pest responses. There are three formal agreements that set out emergency response arrangements for pest and disease incursions across the animal, plant and environmental sectors.
- The National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement (NEBRA) – for incursions that primarily impact the environment and/or social amenity – including marine.
- The Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA) – for incursions that primarily impact animals
- The Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD) – for incursions that primarily impact plants
The EADRA and EPPRD set out cost sharing and other responsibilities of the government and relevant industry parties in an emergency response. The agreements are supported in most cases by statutory levy arrangements which enable livestock and plant industries to fund their share of costs of emergency responses.
What are emergency response levies for?
Emergency response levies are established to enable industry signatories to meet financial liabilities for eradication of pests and diseases under the Emergency Plant Protection Response Deed (EPPRD) and Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA).
Response costs are shared with industry signatories to the EADRA and EPPRD in accordance with the respective deed provisions. If needed, the Australian Government can underwrite an industry’s share of the cost of a response to an incursion, provided the industry can demonstrate a repayment mechanism. Signatories to the deeds are required to undertake steps to request implementation of a levy for their industry, in order to ensure that this liability can be met.
Industries affected by a pest or disease may pay their agreed cost-share of an emergency response from industry reserves, voluntary contributions or through an emergency response levy.
How long does it take to activate an emergency response levy?
The new streamlined process for activation of emergency response levies will be faster than the usual levy process, as the 3-6 month consultation requirement does not apply. However, because the activation of a levy requires the amendment of legislation, the process could still take several months.
How does the emergency response levy work?
The deeds require industry signatories to start the process of establishing an emergency levy within six months of signing either deed. This is to ensure that industries have a mechanism in place to meet cost-sharing obligations if affected by a pest or disease incursion.
Emergency response levies are typically introduced at a nil rate on the understanding that they will be activated (set to a positive rate) when an industry party has agreed to contribute to a cost-shared emergency eradication response and has sought Commonwealth support through a levy.
How do I pay my emergency response levy?
Information on the collection or payment of levies.
Why has the usual consultation requirement been replaced by a notification requirement in the case of activations of emergency response levies?
The activation of these levies is considered exceptional as to establish a zero rated levy, the industry has been consulted and majority support received for activation in the event of a relevant response.
Additionally, industry signatories to the response deeds have a legally binding commitment to meet the financial commitments they incur as affected parties in an agreed emergency response. In practical terms, this means that, unless an industry can meet these commitments in another way, the levy will need to be activated, as previously agreed and supported by industry members.
For these reasons, the process for requesting the activation of an emergency response levy has been simplified, in recognition that the requirements for consultation and demonstration of majority support have already been met. However, a 30-day formal objection period is still required. This objection period provides levy payers the opportunity to provide feedback and lodge any objections.
Does this affect other levies?
It is important to note that the new streamlined requirements only apply to the activation of emergency response levies where activation is required in order to meet costs incurred as part of an emergency eradication response for which the industry member is an affected party. The introduction of emergency response levies, or changes to those levies for any other purpose, would require full industry consultation as set out in the Australian Government Levy Principles and Guidelines. This is because the requirements to show widespread consultation with levy payers and majority support for the proposed levy or levy change, and its intended use, would not yet have been met.
How do I lodge my concern as part of the objection period?
When an industry body provides levy payers with objection period details, it must provide contact information for the lodgement of objections. This will include information for both the industry body and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
The objection needs to come from a potential levy payer and should clearly outline the reasons why the levy proposal is opposed. Most importantly, it should include evidence of the stated opposition to the levy proposal. All objections must be considered by the industry body as part of the levy proposal assessment process.
What if I believe my concerns are not dealt with adequately?
The relevant industry body will need to report any objections received during the objection period. The industry body will be informed of any objections sent directly to the department. Industry bodies may respond directly to those lodging objections, but this is not required.
The industry body will then be required to inform the department of the objections received and how objections have been resolved or addressed.If you believe that your concerns have not been dealt with adequately, please engage first with the industry body wanting to activate the levy. If you are still not satisfied that your concerns have been adequately addressed or answered, please contact the department by email Levies Management.
If you have any questions about levies and charges, your levies account or how to lodge your return, please contact the Levies Helpdesk via email: email@example.com or call us on 1800 020 619