Wednesday, January 24, 2024
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
CANEGROWERS has added its voice to a growing chorus of agricultural bodies from across the country demanding the Federal Government abandon plans for the introduction of a biosecurity levy on farmers.
Representatives from more than 50 peak ag groups, including CANEGROWERS, have signed a letter to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese calling for the proposed biosecurity levy to be scrapped.
CANEGROWERS Chairman Owen Menkens said the proposed levy would in fact operate like a new tax on farmers, saying the introduction of such a tax would be akin to fining the victims of crime while the perpetrators walk away scot-free.
“All farmers take biosecurity seriously on their farms every single day,” Mr Menkens said.
“That’s why growers already pay significant amounts through their levies to fund industry and farm-based biosecurity protection measures.
“What the government is proposing is not what we traditionally understand as a levy, where those contributing have, through their representative bodies, some sort of oversight of how that money is spent.
“Instead, funds from this new levy would disappear into a blackhole in Canberra where we would have no idea how or where they are used by the government. That’s not a levy, that’s a tax.
“And what’s worse, it’s a tax on the wrong people. If the government wants to raise additional funding for biosecurity measures, they should firstly look to the cause of many of our biosecurity breaches – importers and shipping companies – not to the farmers whose livelihoods are threatened by such breaches.
“It’s like someone stealing your car, but you are the one who is fined by the government while the thief walks away without a care in the world, it’s unjust.”
While CANEGROWERS has been calling for increased funding by the Australian Government to make the national biosecurity system better for all Australians, with increased accountability and shared responsibility, the proposed tax on farmers is simply a revenue raising exercise with no accountability.
It will also undermine the confidence of farmers in the value of existing R&D levy arrangements that invest in measures to prepare the ag sector for any incursions by new pests or diseases, Mr Menkens said.
“Whatever way you look at it, this is a poorly thought-out decision by the government and just another example of the bad policy we get when bureaucrats in Canberra make decisions without properly consulting the industries involved.”
CANEGROWERS is calling on its members to act by contacting their local federal member of parliament to raise their concerns at the proposed tax.
Photo source: CANEGROWERS Mackay (Facebook)