Scrap Biosecurity Tax

Calls to stop the proposed biosecurity levy from being imposed on farmers have reached crisis point as the levy bill was introduced to Federal Parliament today.

NSW Farmers Biosecurity Committee Chair Ian McColl said while Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt had now invited members of industry to an advisory panel that would guide the nation’s biosecurity spend, he had no confidence that farmers’ concerns around the levy had been heard.

“Our message has been very clear – we oppose the biosecurity levy bill in its current form, and we do not believe this tax should be imposed on farmers,” Mr McColl said.

“As we’ve said time and time again, farmers already pay far more than their fair share to fund the nation’s biosecurity system, and they are also incurring huge costs to protect their businesses against biosecurity threats.

“Meanwhile, there is no container levy imposed on importers, despite their recent offers to contribute to the cause.”

As several peak bodies in the sector received invitations to sit on the Sustainable Biosecurity Funding Advisory Panel, Mr McColl warned the panel would not serve to address the issues raised by farm leaders around the levy bill.

“The creation of this panel is the Federal Government’s way of saying they have listened to industry – but if they were truly listening, this tax on farmers would not be proceeding,” Mr McColl said.

“To date, the issues that farmers, researchers and even the Productivity Commission have raised around the levy bill’s design have not been addressed.

“If the peak industry councils who are representing farmers truly oppose the levy, then they will not accept this tokenistic invitation to sit at the Department of Agriculture’s table.

“Successive governments have failed to implement positive changes in biosecurity despite extensive reviews and recommendations into these systems – so why would they listen to what an industry panel has to say.”

/Public Release. View in full here.