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Biosecurity levy "less popular than a picnic on a fire ant's nest!"

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Kristin Murdock

08 May 2024, 9:20 PM

Biosecurity levy "less popular than a picnic on a fire ant's nest!"Political parties and industry stakeholders are calling for a day of action to protest against the proposed Biosecurity Protection Levy (Image: The Nationals)

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) arranged a day of action today for producers to unite and take a stand against the Biosecurity Protection Levy.

Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud said Labor’s new fresh food tax will hurt farmers and families.

“We need your help to put a stop to it,” he said on social media.

Labor's fresh food tax has been passed in the House of Representatives, in a move that will drive up the cost-of-living and make groceries more expensive at the checkout.

The NFF encourages its members, comprising all of Australia’s major agricultural commodities across the supply chain, to send a message to politicians and the public about why this tax is unfair and must be binned.

“We vehemently oppose this policy as it is rotten to its core,” NFF President David Jochinke said.

“This policy is less popular than a picnic on a fire ant nest. The fact the government is persisting just shows contempt for farmers and proper policy.”

In a nutshell, the proposed levy will charge farmers for the biosecurity costs of importers bringing their product to Australia.

The NFF's David Jochinke

Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton spoke against the bill in Parliament in March, saying it’s a second-rate proposal that just doesn’t make sense.

“Biosecurity for this country is paramount – it’s so important that we protect our borders to ensure that diseases, pests and insects do not come here and penetrate our first-class agricultural sector,” Mr Coulton said.

“It only makes sense that those that are importing products pay the price for biosecurity scrutiny. To ask Australian farmers to pay for the risk that their competitors are posing to their own industry seems incredibly bizarre to me.

“Can you imagine the gall of a government taxing their own farmers to pay for foreigners to bring their products into the country?”

The National Farmer’s Federation agrees.

“We are less than two months away from this proposed levy being implemented, yet we still have no idea how the levy will be collected and managed. What a shambles,” Mr Jochinke said.

The Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee Senate Inquiry into the levy is expected to hand down its report on Friday, ahead of Budget Week when the NFF expects the bill to be voted on in the Senate.

“The Coalition, Greens and independents have already shown their support for farmers, voting against the levy in the lower house. We call on them to continue to back Aussie farmers and do the same in the Senate,” Mr Jochinke said. “We support efforts to strengthen and better fund Australia’s biosecurity system, but this tax is not the way.”

“The NFF has long-called for the risk creators who bring the pests and diseases to our shores to contribute more to our system, rather than punishing farmers who are left to deal with incursions at great cost to their farm businesses, This call has been backed by review after review and it’s time the Government looked seriously at getting this right, not just for food and fibre production, but for all Australians."

A new petition, Stop the Fresh Food Tax, https://www.stopthefreshfoodtax.com/#action, is being launched by The Nationals today to coincide with industry’s ‘day of action’.