The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) says it’s time the Federal Government put its money where its mouth is and come good on its pre-election commitment for long-term, sustainable biosecurity funding.
NFF President Fiona Simson, who is speaking on a biosecurity panel at today’s Bush Summit in Griffith, welcomed the Albanese Government’s pre-election commitment in May to “deliver long-term, sustainable funding” to strengthen Australia’s biosecurity system.
“The time has come to make good on that commitment,” Ms Simson said.
“Earlier this month the government released the National Biosecurity Strategy and ‘sustainable investment’ is repeatedly there in print as one of the key priority areas, yet there’s still no solution.
“This is not a new ask from farmers who have long called for long-term, sustainable funding to bolster biosecurity to protect our environment, our animals, our economy and our food security.”
The Strategy references the need to advance co-funding and investment strategies with stakeholders. Past reviews have identified the need to consider additional funding sources, such as passenger movement charges and freight/cargo levies.
“Biosecurity is an issue that goes beyond agriculture. It’s about safeguarding Australia’s natural resources as well as food and fibre production for Australians and people across the globe.”
Ms Simson said the NFF had been engaged in efforts to review and identify biosecurity funding and cost recovery models, and would be supportive of reinvestigating these options to solve any remaining hurdles.
The NFF has welcomed recent budget announcements of about $100 million per annum to support biosecurity resourcing. While these were extremely important, they are short-term measures only. The challenge remains to identify new and improved ways of funding Australia’s biosecurity system beyond the forward estimates.
“To ensure the strongest system, we need adequate funding and the NFF, and our members, were disappointed when the previously proposed levies did not progress.
“It is imperative pathways that can potentially bring threats to Australia are matched with adequate biosecurity measures.
“We’ve seen recently how the parasitic Varroa Mite slipped through our biosecurity system, wreaking havoc on the NSW bee industry and fettering food production. This is just one example, we have many more looming threats on our doorstep as well as incursions we need to eradicate, like the carp degrading the Murray-Darling Basin and wild pigs destroying the environment and crops.”
Importantly, the collection and expenditure of biosecurity funding must be transparent, accountable and invested where the biosecurity risks are.