NFF lauds critical analysis of new biosecurity levy model

Sheep Central, February 21, 2024

NFF president David Jochinke – biosecurity protection levy is flawed policy.

AUSTRALIA’S peak farmer body has seized on new criticism of the Federal Government’s revised biosecurity protection levy model as validating farmers’ concerns.

The National Farmers Federation said independent academics from the Australian National University’s Tax and Transfer Policy Institute have backed widespread condemnation of the government’s proposed policy which is due to come into effect in just a matter of months.

The institute’s policy brief has said the government’s revised BPL model “does not pass critical scrutiny”, suggesting it increase charges for those who create the biosecurity threats, such as importers and travellers, and/or further fund biosecurity protecton through general revenue, given that the benefits flow to all Australians.

The TTPI brief argues that basing the BPL on average Gross Value Product of each is at odds with standard tax practice.

“Normally taxes would be applied on net proceeds, where production costs have first been subtracted from gross revenues.

“An even sounder approach would be to calculate the levy in relation to the biosecurity benefit and risk profiles of each industry,” the TTPI brief says.

“This would contribute to alleviating some of the sectoral inequality concerns raised by primary producers and the Productivity Commission.

“Alongside efficiency concerns, the policy decision of a levy raises questions regarding policy planning and justification.”

The brief authors said the decision to levy primary producers, a narrow section of the community, could be explained by wanting to limit opposition to raising biosecurity funds (PC 2023), rather than a “shared responsibility” model (DAFF 2023).

“Should policymakers elect to maintain the BPL, further industry consultation and input is likely to be required, in keeping with the traditional design of industry levies.

“Overall, the government’s package to implement the BPL does not pass critical scrutiny.”

The NFF said the TTPI work builds on the analysis conducted by the Productivity Commission in December 2023 that provided a similar scathing critique of the policy.

NFF president David Jochinke said the TTPI report was another example of independent analysis supporting the issues raised by producers.

“We’ve said from the outset that this is a flawed policy and that producers across the length and breadth of the agricultural sector oppose it.

“Here we have yet another example of a respected institution outlining that these claims are entirely valid,” he said.

“The Minister has shown a willingness to listen, having attempted to tweak the proposal in recent weeks; however, it is now clear that the policy should not proceed in its current form.

“Producers have welcomed increased contributions from taxpayers and travellers to biosecurity efforts, and have made clear that we are more than willing to work with government on ways the agricultural sector can contribute to strengthening our Australia’s biosecurity system, but this policy is simply not the way to do it,” Mr Jochinke said.

The TTPI report can be accessed here.


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