National Farmers' Federation

Senate report as contradictory as the Biosecurity Tax itself

In a spectacular display of intellectual acrobatics, a Senate Committee has this afternoon issued a recommendation to pass the Biosecurity Tax on farmers, contradicting its own lengthy and earnest articulation of the policy’s flaws. 

Over 12 pages, the final report released today seemingly supports the concerns of stakeholders – from industry bodies, to the Productivity Commission and the Australian National University – while offering no countering view or justification for the policy.

The report signed off for the Government by Chair Senator Glenn Sterle, simply concludes with the bewildering and unsubstantiated recommendation “That the Senate pass the bills”.

NFF CEO Tony Mahar said it would be comedic gold if the matter weren’t so serious.

“What’s been tabled is a meticulous autopsy of this tax’s flaws. To conclude that it should be endorsed just defies all logic.”

Australia’s peak farming body is now pleading with the Government to cut its losses and stop embarrassing itself with this friendless proposal.

“They’ve squandered 12 months pushing this one uphill, but clearly it’s radioactive. Obviously that’s frustrating but it’s a sunk cost now. We need to move on. 

“It’s time to cut our losses and find solutions that will work,” Mr Mahar explained.

The NFF said it was not surprised by the report’s contents – given the serious gaps and inconsistencies in the Government’s plan.

“This inquiry has spotted the loose threads and given them a pull. It didn’t take much for the whole thing to come unravelled.

“Whether it’s the lack of accountability and oversight, the confusion over collection, or the basic logic of taxing farmers to make life cheaper for importers – the inquiry process threw up more questions than answers.

“I think people have seen through the smoke and mirrors on the container levy too. Everyone seems to agree that’s what’s needed, but the Government is concealing its legal advice and offering excuses that don’t add up.

“The threats to our biosecurity haven’t gone away. It’s time to put this tax on farmers to bed and have an honest conversation about charging risk creators,” Mr Mahar concluded.