Coalition, Greens and independents unite behind farmers

Farmers already do their bit for biosecurity through on-farm measures. Photo contributed.

Australian farmers representative groups have welcome the support of Coalition, Greens and independent MPs, who voted together in opposition to the Government’s Biosecurity Protection Levy in the lower house last week.

National Farmers’ Federation President David Jochinke said while farmers were disappointed to see the controversial levy progress to the Senate, it was encouraging to see MPs 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,” said Mr Jochinke.

“It’s an important demonstration to farmers that their concerns are being heard.”

Joining opposition to the levy by the Liberals and Nationals, Greens MP Elizabeth Watson-Brown stated her party had serious concerns about the lack of transparency and oversight applied to the allocation of collected industry funds.

Ms Watson-Brown also noted the Greens will be pushing the government to commit to progressing a levy on risk creators in the form of a container levy.

Several members of the crossbench also reiterated the industry’s concerns.

Indi MP Dr Helen Haines shared concern that the levy will be going into consolidated revenue, noting that there is no guarantee that this new charge on farmers will actually go to biosecurity measures.

“In criticising this bill, farmers are not asking the government to do all the work, because they already contribute to biosecurity measures via existing levies, on-farm activities and much, much more” she said.

Allegra Spender MP called out the government.

“I am concerned about the failure of the government to follow its own processes and best practices in policy development,” said Spender MP.

Mr Jochinke thanked the MPs for standing up for farmers and called on Senators to oppose the levy.

“It’s as simple as not standing for poor policy, and we can only hope that Senators see that too.”