Wednesday, 17 January 2024
Cattle Australia is calling on the government to show a genuine commitment to consultation on any new biosecurity levy.
As one of 50 signatories from agricultural producer representative groups to a recent letter sent to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Cattle Australia (CA) called for an immediate and urgent reversal of the fundamentally flawed tax on producers while serious flaws are addressed.
The principles of the policy proposal do not accord with the recent Productivity Commission report into levies, which assesses the policy against well-understood criteria.
The independent Productivity Commission analysis also supports industry’s view that this tax carries multiple risks and consequences for producers.
CA Chief Executive Officer, Dr Chris Parker, said he was disappointed that, as the Prescribed Industry Body representing the grass-fed cattle sector, CA was not consulted on the proposed Biosecurity Protection Levy (BPL) prior to its announcement in the Commonwealth’s May Budget.
“Even once this tax was announced, the consultation process was unable to adequately address the shortcomings in the policy,” Dr Parker said.
“In fact, the government has provided no information on how it intends to address industry’s serious concerns and needs to come clean on how it intends to address the serious inequities in this new tax.
“CA insists the new BPL design include a mechanism for genuine and ongoing industry consultation on both implementation of the levy and its ongoing management, consistent with the sustainable funding actions of the government’s own National Biosecurity Strategy.”
CA said, primarily, the new tax unfairly punishes those already doing the right thing (i.e. levy-paying producers are being forced to pay more taxes), while others continue to avoid making any contribution to biosecurity costs and shared responsibilities.
This flawed, “one-size-fits-all” tax proposal needs to be paused or reversed immediately to prevent these unintended consequences.
“Australian producers take biosecurity seriously on our farms every single day,” Dr Parker said.
“That’s why we already pay significant amounts to fund biosecurity protections directly within our own businesses. We also pay directly through other compulsory industry levies that raise hundreds of millions of dollars – including biosecurity levies.
“We’ve been calling for increased funding and protections to make the system better and fairer for producers with increased accountability and shared responsibility, but this proposal in its current form is grossly unfair and fundamentally flawed.
“One of those inequities is that for the cattle industry, the levy as proposed will be paid many times on an individual animal.”
CA is urging Treasury to conduct proper, detailed economic analysis and modelling of the policy proposal, including providing the actual criteria used to label agricultural producers the only “beneficiaries” of the biosecurity system and not others who also benefit from strong biosecurity and food security.
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