Biosecurity levy on farmers a ‘free kick’ for importers: NFF

Terry Sim, 27/03/2024

NFF president David Jochinke.












LABOR’S current biosecurity protection levy proposal would give food importers a “free kick” against Australian agriculture, National Farmers Federation president David Jochinke said this week.

The Senate Selection of Bills Committee on 21 March referred the Agriculture (Biosecurity Protection) Levies Bill 2024 and related bills to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 10 May 2024.

The bills referred included the Agriculture (Biosecurity Protection) Levies Bill 2024, the Agriculture (Biosecurity Protection) Charges Bill 2024 and the Agriculture (Biosecurity Protection) Levies and Charges Collection Bill 2024.

The legislation passed through the House of Representatives last week despite being opposed by Coalition and Greens members, and some independents, but Greens Senators have reserved their stance pending consultations with the government. Several MPs, including Nationals leader David Littleproud, suggested the government implement a container levy to fund biosecurity.

Mr Littleproud said while the Coalition supports the biosecurity protection levy bill going through a Senate inquiry for further scrutiny, “we cannot support another tax on Australian farmers and families.”

Submissions encouraged before 10 April

The RRATL committee has set a closing date for submissions of Wednesday, 10 April 2024, and invites submissions from all stakeholders.

Mr Jochinke said the NFF understood the Labor Government is trying to get the legislation into place before the end of the financial year.

“What we want to see is a well-funded biosecurity system that adequately places the responsibility on the risk creators,” he said.

The Agriculture (Biosecurity Protection) Charges Bill 2024 is opposed by farmer groups despite recently being remodelled by the Albanese Government, with the BPL rate set as a proportion of an industry’s average gross value of production over a three-year period. This would mean about $50 million per year would come from primary producers, or about six percent of the total $800 million cost of Australia’s biosecurity system in 2024-25. Taypayers would pay 44pc of the cost and importers 48pc.

However, Mr Jochinke said by levying producers for biosecurity “in a round about way it is giving importers of food a free kick against Australian agriculture.”

Mr Jochinke said while farmers were disappointed to see the controversial levy progress to the Senate, it was encouraging to see MPs from across the political spectrum validating the industry’s strong concerns.

“This was a very lonely vote for the Government, and we thank every member who voted against this bad idea. It’s an important demonstration to farmers that their concerns are being heard.”

Online submissions on the biosecurity legislation can be made via the online submission system here.

Submissions can also be sent via email to or by post to PO Box 6100 Parliament House, ACT, 2600.



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