Gippsland › Latest news › Liberal Nationals

Embarrassing remodel of fresh food tax by federal Labor government still hurts families and farmers and will lead to higher prices

Labor adjusts fresh food tax method, causing confusion. The Agriculture Minister announces changes. Critics urge scrapping, citing impact on farmers and food security. Agricultural groups oppose levy.

By news@gippsland - 14th February 2024 - Back to News

Labor has reaffirmed it will introduce a fresh food tax that will increase the cost of fresh food for Australian families. Leader of The Nationals David Littleproud said Labor's rejig of the biosecurity protection levy, announced in Senate Estimates, is still just another tax on farmers and will be passed onto consumers, which will create another cost-of-living pressure for families already struggling.

David Littleproud criticises Labor's fresh food tax. Urges dropping it, favouring Coalition's importer-focused approach. Questions Minister Watt's understanding of industry

David Littleproud criticises Labor's fresh food tax. Urges dropping it, favouring Coalition's importer-focused approach. Questions Minister Watt's understanding of industry

Tax overhaul, implementation

The new tax, set to be introduced to Parliament, will force Australian farmers to pay for the biosecurity costs of international importers, pushing up Australian grown produce prices at supermarkets.

Labor will now set the tax rate as a proportion of an industry's average gross value of production over a three-year period, rather than a base rate of 10 per cent on industry-led levies, due to confusion in the levy system and inequity. Yet Agriculture Minister Murray Watt only announced the rejigged levy on Tuesday, February 13.

The Department told Senate Estimates it still needs to formally advise industry of their new rate over the coming days and months. "Labor has been forced into a humiliating change on its fresh food tax but it is still taxes, done a different way, that will commence on July 1," Mr Littleproud said.

Littleproud opposes tax

Mr Littleproud said Labor should drop the tax and mirror what the Coalition has announced, which will charge importers for the biosecurity costs they pose bringing their product to Australia. "Minister Watt is out of his depth and doesn't understand the industry, yet he is still determined to tax our farmers and prioritise importers, calling the levy 'reasonable'."

"Sadly, we saw in Estimates both the Department and the Minister could not even explain what it means for the average tomato grower. In what parallel universe would any Australian government tax their own farmers, to pay for foreigners to bring their products into this country?" he said.

It comes after more than 50 agricultural representative groups, including Grain Producers Australia, signed a joint letter to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressing unified opposition about the new tax.

Levy erodes trust

Grain Producers Australia chair Barry Large said the new levy undermines fundamental trust and confidence in the long-standing partnerships created through existing industry-imposed levies. "Labor needs to listen to the strong concerns raised by all Australian producers and their representative groups by scrapping the new tax immediately."

"Risk-creators are not contributing directly to ongoing costs of biosecurity incursions, unlike agricultural producers who pay emergency response levies and pay direct on-farm business costs. This funding, via a tax disguised as a levy, will force producers to pay more, while free riders continue getting a free ride," Mr Large said.

Farmers squeezed unfairly

Beef and watermelon Chinchilla farmer Terry O'Leary said the tax would be another squeeze on farmers who are already struggling to make ends meet. "I think it's disgusting the way they are treating us as a cash cow. You wouldn't go to the State of Origin and expect players to pay for security at the front gate out of their own back pocket, so why should farmers?"

"When you look at horticulture, 32 per cent of the industry is considering leaving. It is ridiculous Labor is putting a tax on an industry that is shrinking and this will affect our food security. It will cost farmers more money. Producers are getting the squeeze and this is another squeeze that makes us compensate for other producers. It is so unfair," Mr O'Leary said.

Pictures from David Littleproud MP Instagram page.


Published by:

Edit this news article

Baw Baw Bass Coast Cardinia East Gippsland Latrobe City South Gippsland Wellington
© 2001-2024 Print this page | Subscribe to Newsletter | Feedback / Inquiries | Login
Care has been taken in compiling the component parts of this website. However, does not warrant or represent that the website is free from errors or omissions, that the qualifications claimed by an advertiser are valid or that the published details of any advertiser are as stated on the website. Please review the full statement of our Terms and Conditions of Service and disclaimer.