Fresh food tax report reveals Labor’s confusing mess

13 May 2024

Leader of The Nationals David Littleproud said a report into the fresh food tax shows Labor’s biosecurity protection levy is still a confusing mess and lacking details, just weeks out before its implementation on July 1.

Mr Littleproud said despite the Labor Government Committee Chair supporting the tax in the Committee report, Agriculture (Biosecurity Protection) Levies Bill 2024 Provisions and related bills, a dissenting report from the Coalition released today gives clear evidence why the tax should not go ahead.

“The new tax makes absolutely no sense and it will hurt families and farmers who are already under pressure,” Mr Littleproud said.

“In what parallel universe would a government charge its own farmers to pay for the risks their competitors are creating? Farmers will be forced to pass on costs, meaning families will feel more pain at the grocery checkout.

“As stated in the dissenting report, the Coalition will continue to stand behind the continued push by farmers to oppose this tax.

“The Nationals now call on all Australian Senators, ahead of an upcoming crucial vote in the Senate, not to support these Bills. It has no detail and Labor still can’t explain how they will collect or implement the tax. It’s a disorganised, shambolic and terrible idea and likely to not even work.”

84 agricultural commodities are set to be taxed to raise around $150 million over three years. The Senate inquiry heard industry was “blindsided” by the “frustrating” and “bizarre” new tax, with the National Farmers’ Federation labelling it “poor, clumsy, lazy policy”.

The Department is still unable to explain if the levy will be paid by the buyer or seller of cattle, an industry which will pay over $9 million.

Other smaller industries face huge administrative burdens.

“The deer industry, for example, will pay $265.12 but how will Labor collect this small fee when it still can’t explain the details and what kind of administrative burden does that create?”

Chief Executive Officer of Melons Australia Johnathon Davey said growers have “simply had enough”.

“To expect our national farmers to foot the additional $50 million bill in the first year is just unwarranted, these are the people who continue to work hard to secure our local supply of food for all Australians and the entire system needs a rethink, not just slamming home the new tax by July 1,” Mr Davey said.

“The Australian melon industry contributed in excess of $220,000 in levies towards biosecurity activities in 2022/23 and now we are being told we need to contribute a further $100,000.

“This is an additional 45 per cent on top of existing contributions, into consolidated revenue with no say over what work is delivered or where the funding is spent.

“There is no support for this proposed tax. Our growers are already struggling and now to shake the can and expect more from already empty pockets is unacceptable.”

A petition, Stop Labor’s New Fresh Food Tax, has been launched by The Nationals;

“We urge all Australian families and farmers to sign the petition,” Mr Littleproud said.

David Littleproud with NFF scrap the tax