79-2018 - Cost recovery charges for diagnostic services for specific consignments

​26 July 2018​

Who does this notice affect?

Industry stakeholders, including commercial importers and brokers.

What has changed?

In 2014-15, the department undertook a comprehensive review of the cost recovery structures and charges for all cost recovery arrangements resulting in amended charges coming into effect from December 2015. This included a change in the methodology the department uses to cost recover diagnostic services required for biosecurity regulatory functions.

From 1 December 2015, diagnostic services for import consignments transitioned from being levy funded to a fee for service activity. Diagnostic activity is included as fee-bearing activity at Item 1 of the table at section 106(1) of the Biosecurity Regulations 2016.

In late 2017, a review of the application of charging within the Department identified that diagnostic services were being recovered for plant imports, but not more broadly for import consignments as the policy intended in December 2015.

As a result, from September 2018, the department will be moving to ensure that diagnostic services are cost recovered consistently with the legislation. These services will be cost recovered using the time based rates in the Biosecurity Regulations 2016.

The quarter hour based fees will be charged by the Departmental Officer at a rate of $30 per 15 minutes or part thereof, and will apply to:

  • diagnostics conducted as part of satisfying an import condition for a consignment, and
  • diagnostics of possible biosecurity risks (e.g. pest, weed or disease) identified by the department in the course of conducting an inspection (i.e. items identified for testing or examination as part of a referral for identification).

Proposed fee for service

The proposed fee-bearing activity will be charged by the departmental officer at the rate of $30 per 15 minutes or part thereof. The fee will only be for diagnostic services actually used, so the importers will only pay for necessary services, rather than a fixed or averaged amount that exceeds the actual costs required for their consignments.


Commercially imported goods with cut flowers were found infested with pests and disease symptoms, and were referred for diagnosis. Samples are collected with accompanying paperwork for each supplier and sent to Operational Science Services (OSS) for identification and diagnosis. On receiving the individual samples with the accompanying paperwork, OSS unpack, inspect, prepare and complete diagnosis.

If this process takes:

  • 20 minutes to complete, the importer will be charged $60 (2 x 15 minute charge)
  • 15 minutes to complete, the importer will be charged $30 (1 x 15 minute charge).

Further information

It is expected that charges will be applied from September 2018. Industry participants requesting further information on application of the fee are encouraged to contact the department at Cost Recovery.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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