29 February 2024.

AgForce members feel hoodwinked by yesterday’s moves by the Albanese government to rush through legislation imposing a $50 million tax on Australian farmers.

Queensland’s peak representative body for farmers strongly supports concerns raised today by the National Farmers Federation about the proposed biosecurity levy.

AgForce CEO Michael Guerin says while the tax may be called the Biosecurity Protection Levy, primary producers are in no doubt that this is an impost they can ill afford and that provides little benefit.

“Let there be no doubt, this biosecurity levy is a tax in thinly veiled disguise, and farmers resent being blindsided in this way,” Mr Guerin says.

“The Albanese government is pushing ahead with this legislation despite wide-ranging criticism from a range of policy experts, three independent reports, and industry stakeholders.

“This proposed tax makes farmers do all the heavy lifting for the benefit of importers and airlines, and provides no benefit to the agricultural industry on which Australia’s food security relies.”

Mr Guerin says the administrative burden of the levy is also a considerable liability.

“Even the importers are now suggesting that alternatives should be found to the levy because they can see the bureaucratic burden that it will impose,” he says.

“This tax is a blunt instrument that does little to improve the situation it is supposedly being brought in to fix, and also doesn’t recognise the significant contribution Australian farmers already make to the biosecurity system.

“All major farming groups have come out against this move. We are united with them.

“The late addition of an advisory panel to oversee the levy does not ease our concerns. We see it as a last minute bid to give the legislation some credibility, and exposes the process to bring it in as chaotic at best. There is no detail at all on what the panel involves and the extent of its role.”

Mr Guerin says AgForce supports the NFF’s call for Opposition and crossbench MP’s to reject the bills.

Three independent bodies have criticised the proposed levy, including The Office of Impact Analysis (OIA), The Productivity Commission’s recent report Towards Levyathan? and the ANU’s Tax and Transfer Policy Institute (TPPI). The TPPI concluded that the design of the levy is extremely poor and that alternatives should be considered such as increasing charges for those who create biosecurity threats, or funding biosecurity through general revenue as the benefits flow on to all Australians.


For media comments contact: 

AgForce CEO – Michael Guerin 0488 002 092