National Farmers' Federation

The NFF reminds Government, new biosecurity levy has zero support

As the Federal Government considers the final design of the Biosecurity Protection Levy, the National Farmers’ Federation is reminding those leading this to start the year right by demonstrating they have listened to the concerns of the agricultural sector.

NFF President David Jochinke said the proposed levy would impact every one of Australia’s 85,000 producers, yet so far, the sector had received little assurance that the significant concerns they’d raised have been addressed.

“We are less than six months away from this levy being implemented and possibly just days before legislation is introduced to parliament, yet major unknowns and associated risks surround the proposed policy,” Mr Jochinke said.

“As it stands, what’s proposed is deeply flawed with numerous issues with its design and proposed implementation.

“The proposal, as it stands, is inconsistent with established levy principles such as equitability, transparency and accountability, presents a range of negative consequences for agricultural and biosecurity systems, and lacks transparency about how the funds will deliver dedicated, additional and tangible biosecurity outcomes.”

The NFF is particularly concerned about impacts on the sector’s research and development network – a system that has served producers so well for decades.

“Given the Commonwealth – and as such general taxpayers – fund about $400 million annually in co-contributions towards this system, policies that undermine the sound functioning of this framework are not confined just to the agriculture sector.

“Let’s be very clear – this is about the policy construct, not us wanting to avoid paying more.

“Australian producers already contribute significant amounts to biosecurity systems and remain open to sensible opportunities to invest in actions that deliver tangible and additional biosecurity outcomes. However the proposed levy is not one such option.

“The NFF’s concerns have been echoed by the Productivity Commission which, incredibly, undertook its own case study on the proposal and identified significant issues with the policy design including equitability, accountability, efficiency and a lack of clear links to outcomes valued by industry.

“Producers have made it clear the Government needs to make material changes to the proposed policy to address the significant concerns of industry. Until that occurs producers remain steadfast in their opposition to the policy,” Mr Jochinke said.