14 February 2024

Biosecurity Protection Levy should be paused, details to be explained, impacts known

Citrus Australia acknowledges comments made by the Minister for Agriculture the Honourable Murray Watt, stating he has heard the calls from industry that the Biosecurity Protection Levy (BPL) needed to be redesigned.

Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock is concerned that no detail on the design and implementation has been forthcoming and that certain key criteria have not been addressed.

“Correspondence from the Minister reflects a lot of the feedback Citrus Australia and the many other industry bodies that oppose this tax have provided to the department and to the Minister’s office,” Hancock said.

“And while our stance remains a firm no to this tax, there are still key elements missing in the Minister’s statements, firstly that the funding raised through these measures is not hypothecated and secondly that industry still doesn’t have a say on how the money is spent,” he said.

“Probably most frustrating for the agriculture industry as a whole is that the recent statements continue to ignore calls for other sectors to contribute to biosecurity incursion responses, for example through a container levy.

“Cost recovery for services at the port doesn’t help offset the enormous cost of responding to incursions and that’s the guts of the argument for our industries,” said Hancock.

Citrus Australia has called for the implementation of the BPL to be paused whilst industry is further consulted on the mechanism to assess whether the proposed changes are equitable and practical to implement.

“The time from for the implementation is July 2024, just five months away. Given the track record of the development of this legislation to date we’re not comfortable that there’s sufficient time to get this right,” said Hancock.

The BPL comes at a time when growers are already feeling significant margin squeeze as retail prices are kept low whilst costs to growers have been driven up.

Citrus Australia wants to see impact assessments for recent government policy changes, including the BPL.

“At a time when Prime Minister Albanese is calling for inquiries into the actions of retailers it is questionable that the Ag Minister and the Treasurer are slipping another tax into the laundry lists of increasing costs being absorbed by growers,” said Hancock.

“The industry deserves to see the impact assessments for the BPL and other recent changes like the changes to the PALM scheme and impacts of decisions by the FWO – these are all significant imposts on industry and they are an important contributor to the margin squeeze affecting farmers in every sector.”

Citrus Australia remains firmly opposed to the Biosecurity Protection Levy.


For further information, contact Matthew Jones, Communications Manager, Citrus Australia, on 0448213330 or matt.jones@citrusaustralia.com.au

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