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24/08/2015  –  Department of Agriculture Import Industry Advice Notice

The following information has been provided by the Department of Agriculture and has been forwarded for your attention.

Import Industry Advice Notice 66/2015

Commencement of the Australian Fumigation Accreditation Scheme (AFAS) in Fiji on 27 August 2015.

Who does this notice affect?

Fiji methyl bromide treatment providers and importers of goods treated with methyl bromide in Fiji.

What has changed?

AFAS Fiji will officially commence on 27 August 2015. Methyl bromide fumigation certificates from Fiji issued on or after this date will only be accepted if they are issued by registered AFAS treatment providers. The Fiji Methyl Bromide Treatment Providers List is available on the Department of Agriculture website.

Methyl bromide fumigation certificates issued prior to 27 August 2015 will remain acceptable provided they meet the existing requirements.

Importers must ensure all methyl bromide treatments conducted in Fiji on or after 27 August 2015 are conducted by a methyl bromide treatment provider that is listed as acceptable on the Fiji AFAS Methyl Bromide Treatment Providers List.

Further information?

For further information on this issue please contact the Compliance Partnerships section by e-mail at afas@agriculture.gov.au

 

21/08/2015  – Treasurer Announces 10% GST to Apply to all Overseases Online Purchases

Treasurer Joe Hockey has announced today that a 10% GST will apply to all overseas online purchases from July 2017.

“This will ensure that there is a fair and equal treatment of all goods and services,” Mr Hockey said in a press conference this afternoon in Canberra.

“This will deliver competitive neutrality for Australian businesses.”

For further detail please refer to the Treasurers Statement

 

14/08/2015  – MUA Takes Hutchison to Court Over Wharfie Sackings

The Maritime Union of Australia has taken Hutchison Ports Australia to the Federal Court claiming a breach of its enterprise agreement with its workers on two grounds:

  • Lack of adequate consultation with respect to redundencies.
  • Ignoring the dispute resolution clause

The Federal Court ordered last night that staff be reinstated ahead of a substantive hearing. This means that the jobs of 97 Hutchison Ports workers are safe until the week beginning August 31.

We are awaiting an update from Hutchsion Ports in terms of operational implications.

Advice received yesterday was the Brisbane terminal would be open today however we are standing by for any variation to this position as we have just received notice that the Sydney terminal will remain closed today for all time zones.

Source: FTA

 

11/08/2015  –  Workers sacked by email continue to picket at Hutchison Terminals

Protesting workers have refused to unload the first cargo ship to arrive at Hutchison Port operations since the company sacked 97 workers in Brisbane and Sydney via email and text message last week.  The ship Capitaine Tasman arrived at Port Botany in Sydney about 9:30am on Monday, but went back out to sea about an hour later still fully laden.

Staff at the Port of Brisbane are blocking the road to Berth 11, where a ship was due to dock Monday morning but failed to arrive.  Picket lines were drawn at ports in both cities after Hutchison Ports Australia axed staff in messages about 11:30pm last Thursday, citing substantial financial losses. Chanting demonstrators in Brisbane said the late night dismissals were disgraceful and un-Australian, and have vowed to continue the protest until the decision is reversed. At both sites, trucks turned around and left as soon as they saw the rallies, while protestors in Brisbane prevented cars from entering the area.

Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt was not impressed by the midnight sackings.  He visited the workers at the picket line on Monday afternoon.  “Losing your job is hard enough, but to get sacked via text message in the middle of the night is a really bitter pill to swallow,” he said.  “The Palaszczuk Government will provide any assistance it can to the affected workers and their families.”

Click here to read the full story on ABC Online

 

07/08/2015  –  Egypt to open Suez canal expansion two years early

Egypt is this week set to inaugurate a major expansion of the Suez canal finished in a third of the originally estimated time.

The $8bn (£5bn) project had been projected to take three years but on the orders of the president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the former military chief who led the overthrow of an elected Islamist government in 2013, was completed after one year.

The expansion adds an additional lane along part of the vital shipping channel, which officials say will shorten waiting times. It includes 21 miles (35km) of new channels cut through the desert and a further 22 miles (37km) where existing bodies of water were dredged to make way for larger ships.

“This is a huge undertaking on a world scale. It has been completed in a time that is frankly astonishing,” said Peter Hinchliffe, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping.

Click here to read the full story published in The Guardian

 

31/07/2015  –  Protected Industrial Action impacting Dept. of Agriculture

The Department of Agriculture (the department) has received notice from the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) that periods of protected industrial action will occur on 3 and 4 August 2015 by CPSU members within the department.

The department will continue to operate during periods of industrial action to deliver services to our clients on a risk-managed basis while seeking to minimise disruption to your business.

In summary, the protected industrial action comprises of location specific actions at varying times and days including:

  • handing out an authorised statement to clients or customers face-to-face
  • temporary work stoppages at airports and ports lasting between 1 and 4 hours
  • bans on data entry for bookings and the release of goods
  • bans on screening and inspections
  • bans on selected work practices resulting in a higher number of passengers, mail and cargo items being selected for screening.

While the department does expect the above action to cause some disruption to our normal services, there could be aspects of our service where disruption is more obvious and will require particular attention. We will continue to provide updates through our industry notices, on our website and engage directly with clients where necessary.

A full list of actions is available on the department’s website.

Further information?

If you have any concerns or questions please call 1800 900 090 or visit Protected Industrial Action page on the department’s website.

 

28/07/2015  –  Toll Group and DP World Australia in talks to set up new JV

Australia’s largest provider of freight and logistics services, Toll Group, and Australia’s biggest stevedore, DP World Australia, have agreed to progress plans that could see more freight delivered by rail into and out of Port Botany.

The proposed 50/50 joint venture will connect a dedicated container staging port at Port Botany to an intermodal freight terminal in Villawood, 25 kilometres west of Sydney to deliver an improved service for importers and exporters.

Toll Group Managing Director Brian Kruger said the JV could move around 180,000 TEUs per annum on the rail shuttle.

“A rail shuttle running between Port Botany and Villawood on the Southern Sydney Freight Line will remove around 100,000 plus truck movements off Sydney’s roads each year,” Mr Kruger said.

“That’s 100,000 less trucks on the already-congested roads around the port and Sydney Airport.”

DP World Australia Managing Director and CEO, Paul Scurrah, said that utilising the experience and resources of both companies would see a new end-to-end service offering for customers.

“By using the expertise and existing assets of DP World Australia and Toll, this proposed Joint Venture will create new efficiencies and competition in the Sydney import- export (IMEX) supply chain,” Mr Scurrah said.

“Importantly, the introduction of a new multi-user intermodal terminal in Western Sydney with a direct rail connection to DP World Australia’s staging facility next to the wharf will increase freight transport options for local importers and regional exporters.”

The proposed JV will leverage DP World Australia’s capability in managing the container terminal interface and Toll’s capability in managing warehousing, delivery and end to end customer solutions. The partners will consider expanding the joint venture into other markets if sensible opportunities arise over time.

The Port Botany–Villawood project is planned to start operations in 2017.

Source: FTA

 

28/07/2015 – Proposed measures to manage Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs in 2015/16

The Australian Department of Agriculture has issued their proposal to manage the seasonal risk of brown marmorated stink bug infestations in sea cargo shipped from the United States.  Please click below for full details.

 AAW Broadcast Brown Marmorted Bug

 

24/07/2015  –  Federal Government Proposes to collect GST to imported goods over the value of $20

Reports in the Australian Financial Review and Sydney Morning Herald indicate that the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) will consider a proposal from the Federal Government to extend GST collection to imported goods over the value of $20.

As well returning a reported $1.7 billion a year revenue within 5 years to state governments, the decision also supports Australian “bricks and mortar” retailers who have highlighted difficulties competing with the online environment stating that the existing low value threshold arrangements provide an unfair advantage to that sector of commerce.

This was one of several factors resulting in the 2011 Productivity Commission report titled Economic Structure and Performance of the Australian Retail Industry.

Recommendation 7.1 of that report suggested that there are strong in principle grounds to lower the low value threshold exemption for GST and duty on imported goods where it is cost-effective to do so.

As a result, the Federal Government commissioned the Low Value Parcel Processing Taskforce to undertake a comprehensive investigation of low value import processing.

FTA had the privilege to meet with Taskforce on several occasions providing input on historical issues, Integrated Cargo System (ICS) technical specifications and operational implications.

The result was a 290 page report providing the reform context, determination and initial assessment of potential solutions, detailed assessment of potential reforms and proposed reform pathway.

Below are some interesting points to note from the report:

  • The Taskforce highlighted complexities in the postal environment as against the more sophisticated express courier arrangements. Longer term solutions will be monitored in terms international mail stream initiatives.
  • It is quite possible that duty will not be collected on low value items. The Taskforce highlighted the complexity in accurately classifying import consignments to determine appropriate duty collection and also justified this approach by noting “the trend for duty rates to be lowered and / or abolished in the future”.
  • The Taskforce is extremely mindful on the need to collect GST to support State and Territory revenue. In order to simplify the revenue collection process, it is quite possible that the value of taxable importation calculation will not include duty, freight or insurance components.
  • The Taskforce identified a range of potential revenue collection and cost recovery models. There is some doubt as to whether the ICS will be able to accommodate these changes or whether external ICT development will be required.

In terms of the quantum of the threshold, the Taskforce report kept us guessing over the last few years indicating only that it should be set above $0 and below $1000.

Bringing the threshold down as low as $20 will certainly test capabilities of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), the online retail sector, express carriers and other logistics providers involved in managing this change.

But does it end there?

Currently an Import Processing Charge (IPC) is administered by DIBP and the Department of Agriculture on import declarations for goods over the value of $1000. Will the decision to reduce the threshold be the catalyst for the Federal Government to collect an IPC on all imported goods over the value of $20?

Major importers are looking for benefits from the much publicised Australian Trusted Trader program including a reduction in the IPC for lodgement of periodic declarations. It is quite possible that a new IPC revenue stream on low value goods could provide the offset needed to deliver this key benefit to Trusted Traders?

There will clearly be a need for extensive industry engagement in the months (and years) ahead as the reforms are established and introduced. Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) will remain focused on this issue and will keep industry at the cutting edge of these changes.

Source – FTA

 

01/07/2015  –  Asciano confirms receipt of proposal and granting of due diligence

Today Aciano made a release to the ASX regarding media speculation in relation to a proposal put forward by Brookfield Infrastructure Group to acquire 100% of the shares in Asciano.

Brookfield is a global alternative asset manager with over $200 billion in assets under management. Brookfield trades on the NYSE and Toronto stock exchanges and has a current market capitalisation of approximately $35 billion.

Brookfield’s transportation infrastructure platform is one of the world’s largest multi-purpose port and rail owners, with over 250 million tonnes, 54 billion NTK’s and 2.0 million TEU’s handled annually. The key port and rail assets within Brookfield’s transportation platform include Brookfield Rail in Western Australia, Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal in Queensland, PD Ports in the UK, VLI logistics in Brazil, TraPac container terminals in Los Angeles and Oakland, Euroports in Europe and China.

Alistair Field, Patrick Terminal and Logistics Director,  has confirmed that they have received a proposal to acquire Asciano. The Asciano Board needs to consider proposals which could be in the best interest of our shareholders, employees and ultimately our customers.

“At this stage we are in the early stages of consideration and there is still further work to be done before any final offer is made. A number of significant steps still need to be undertaken in order to progress to a formal proposal from Brookfield, including:

Completion of due diligence;
Final approval of the investment committee of Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and the Board of Directors of Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP; and
Execution of satisfactory definitive documentation customary for a transaction of this nature.
While I appreciate that any potential change can be unsettling for our customers, at this stage there are no changes to our operations and we are committed to remaining focused on delivering to our customers as our core priority. At this stage there is no confirmed change in our company structure or ownership and should a transaction occur, it would be on the basis that Brookfield values the strength of our business and the quality our of our existing customer relationships.

There is no certainty that the proposal will result in an offer for the Company [or a recommendation by the Board of Asciano]. If it does not, we are confident that Asciano has a very attractive independent future and that the Company is well positioned to continue to deliver strong growth.”