Fake building blocks hide real biosecurity risks
Authorities from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) and the Australian Border Force (ABF) have intercepted 50 turtles and lizards, concealed in an international mail consignment from Indonesia on 9 June 2017.
The package, declared as ‘toys’, was x-rayed by ABF officers in Sydney where anomalies were found. Biosecurity officers were swiftly alerted, who confirmed that 50 turtles and lizards were concealed among the toy blocks.
Head of biosecurity operations at DAWR, Nico Padovan, said vets secured the contraband and the animals were euthanised.
“People sending lizards and turtles through the mail have no concern for the welfare of the animals or the potential biosecurity risk they present to our country and people,” Mr Padovan said.
“Importing turtles and lizards without an import permit is not only breaking the law, but it puts human health and the health of our environmental ecosystems at risk.
“It is one of the reasons why the Biosecurity Act 2015 was introduced; to provide essential protection for our $59 billion agricultural industries, natural environment and the health of Australian people, animals and plants.
“It is an ongoing battle, but with the latest technology available we will catch those who do the wrong thing.”
ABF Regional Commander New South Wales, Tim Fitzgerald, said this detection is a great example of Australia’s border security processes.
“Australian Border Force Officers at the International Mail Centre in Sydney have done an outstanding job in identifying and examining a high risk package being imported from Indonesia, where numerous turtles and lizards were cruelly concealed in building blocks,” Commander Fitzgerald said.
Mr Padovan said biosecurity was not just about stopping things at the border.
“We work offshore to reduce the likelihood pests and diseases make it to Australia, at the border to stop them when they do, and onshore to detect and eradicate pests and diseases that make it here,” Mr Padovan said.
“In 2015–16 around 138 million international mail articles were sent to Australia, with 19 million international travellers coming through Australian airports.
“Managing Australia’s biosecurity system is a big job.
“We need people to do the right thing and not bring or send things to Australia that could result in pests of diseases getting here.
“That way we can concentrate our efforts on those who intentionally try to thwart our systems.”
For information about what can and can’t be sent to Australia go to agriculture.gov.au/travelling.
The turtle and lizard importation matter is still under investigation.
Small businesses encouraged to claim instant asset write-off
The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman has encouraged small business operators to take advantage of the Government’s instant asset write-off extension.
More businesses are now eligible to buy equipment (new or second hand) up to $20,000 and write it off immediately after legislation passed the Senate. Multiple claims can be made under the program.
Small business has also been redefined for tax purposes as having a turnover less than $10 million, up from $2 million.
Ombudsman Kate Carnell welcomed the changes.
“The instant asset write-off program enables small business to immediately deduct assets costing less than $20,000 instead of claiming deductions over a number of years,” she said.
“This is a welcome incentive for small business to invest, which provides benefits for the broader economy and employment.”
Ms Carnell said anecdotal evidence suggested only a small proportion of eligible businesses were taking advantage of the opportunity.
“I encourage small business operators to invest before June 30 and claim the tax deduction,” she said.
Assets that cost $20,000 or more can't be immediately deducted.
Ms Carnell said small businesses in some industries would generally require assets above the $20,000 threshold.
“Effectively, this means that some industries are disadvantaged,” she said.
“It makes more sense for the threshold to be raised so that all businesses can benefit, upgrade their assets and continue to grow to benefit the economy.
“I will continue to urge the Government to lift the $20,000 threshold because for some industries, like farming, it’s too low for them to purchase equipment.”