NFF says biosecurity levy likely to be voted down in the Senate

Sheep Central, May 15, 2024

Minister for Agriculture Murray Watt, left, has been told to look elsewhere for biosecurity funding.

The National Farmers’ Federation has thanked senators who stood up for farmers in parliament this week, declaring their opposition to the proposed biosecurity protection levy and increasing the likelihood that supporting legislation will not pass the Senate.

Tasmanian Senator Peter Wish-Wilson today announced The Greens would oppose the levy – labelling the consultation “rushed and inadequate”.

Senator Whish-Wilson said The Greens support significant and new biosecurity funding that ensures Australia has robust threat abatement measures in place to safeguard our communities, the environment and industry into the future

“And we congratulate the Agriculture Minister (Murray Watt) for raising significant additional revenue from some key biosecurity risk creators.

“But the Bill the government flagged for parliament to specifically tax farmers in this regard is poor policy in both principle and design and should be rejected,” he said.

“The fact this new proposed levy has zero buy-in from the agricultural sector speaks for itself – consultation on it was rushed and inadequate.

“The Greens have consulted with stakeholders including the minister’s office, listened to farmers, attended Senate hearings into this legislation and feel strongly a different approach is needed, and we will work constructively with the government and farmers to achieve this,” Senator Whish-Wilson said.

“If the government needs an extra $50m to boost biosecurity border security, it should look elsewhere.”

The NFF has confirmed The Greens, Coalition, One Nation, and Senators David Pocock, Jacqui Lambie, Tammy Tyrell and Ralph Babet opposed the tax – news applauded by NFF chief executive officer Tony Mahar.

“On behalf of Australian agriculture, thank you for seeing common sense. This was a bad policy riddled with holes.”

“We’ve fiercely fought to #ScraptheTax and now we hope the Government can finally hit delete and find a better way to ensure Australia’s biosecurity system is the best in the world,” Mr Mahar said.

The NFF called on the Government to withdraw the legislation and work with farmers and stakeholders on a policy everyone could support.

“It’s time now for Government to walk away from this policy and work with the agriculture industry to protect Australia from pests and diseases for farmers and for all Australians.”

Independent ACT Senator David Pocock has said he won’t support the Biosecurity Protection Levy Bills 2024 in their current form, citing significant concerns about the equity, implementation, and transparency of the proposed levies.

While Senator Pocock strongly supports enhanced funding for Australia’s biosecurity systems, he believes that the current proposal is not the most effective way to address the real need for increased biosecurity and fails to distribute the financial burden fairly across industries.

“I stand firm on the need for increased funding to protect our borders from biosecurity threats. But it is crucial that we achieve this in a way that is fair, transparent, and effective,” Senator Pocock said.

“The Biosecurity Protection Levy bills as drafted do not meet this standard and I cannot support them in their present form.

“I welcome the opportunity to work with the government and colleagues from across the Parliament to develop a better way to address the critical funding needs of our biosecurity system.”


Source: National Farmers Federation


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