The Albanese Labor Government is threatening Mallee’s productivity through the new biosecurity fresh food tax, Member for Mallee Dr Anne Webster says.
The Productivity Commission’s new report Towards Levyathan? Industry levies in Australia found levies introduced in the agriculture sector were now being imposed to simply raise general tax revenue.
“The Productivity Commissions report shows that Labor needs to axe its new Biosecurity Protection Levy before we lose our agricultural sector,” Dr Webster said.
The report labels the new levy as inefficient as it will be imposed in addition to existing agricultural levies, which have raised funds for crop research and development.
“Labor is treating farmers like cash cows for the public purse,” Dr Webster said. “Instead of supporting agriculture and the people who put food on our tables and clothes on our backs, this out-of-touch government is milking them dry.”
The new biosecurity levy comes into effect on July 1, 2024 and will force farmers to pay for the biosecurity risks created by importers from less regulated countries, costing farmers $153 million over three years.
“What an insult to our producers! To make them pay for biosecurity risks posed by their competitors in other countries who import into Australian markets. It is complete nonsense,” Dr Webster said.
“When your prices at the supermarket checkout continue to go up and you struggle to feed your family, thank Labor for their senseless cash grab at the expense of our farmers,” Dr Webster said.
“A future Coalition Government will ensure this fresh food tax is scrapped.”
Farmers and farm managers represent almost 10 per cent of the Mallee workforce, according to the ABS, making yet another farming tax a significant handbrake on productivity in the electorate.
“Mallee producers already pay sector-specific levies on citrus, avocadoes, wine grapes, table grapes, grains and dozens more. Those voluntary levies support productivity improvements and the mandatory biosecurity levy might see farmers pull back their voluntary levy contributions, and thereby reduce research and development and productivity,” Dr Webster added.