Senate debates

Wednesday, 10 May 2023

Questions without Notice


2:48 pm

Photo of Murray WattMurray Watt (Queensland, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) Share this | Hansard source

Well, Senator Ciccone, the only thing that I think tops the level of excitement you have in asking that question is my excitement in answering the question. It is good to get a question from a senator about agriculture. It would appear the National Party have completely vacated the field.

This morning a new era dawned for Australian agriculture. For the first time ever, Australia has a sustainable biosecurity funding model. This will be a lasting Labor legacy of the Albanese government in the Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry portfolio, something that not one, not two and not three—all recycled—agriculture ministers from the National Party were ever able to achieve. The Albanese government is locking in higher, ongoing and more predictable biosecurity funding from year to year. We have drawn a line under years of stopgap temporary funding from coalition governments that put our agriculture industry at risk.

This decision of the Albanese government in last night's budget will result in more than $1 billion of additional funding for biosecurity, including $845 million to support biosecurity operations across the country, protecting our valuable agricultural industries. Isn't it good that at last we've got a Labor government standing up for our agriculture sector and biosecurity, rather than the mess we inherited from the other side?

Now, how will we pay for this? This is a good question. Importers will contribute about 48 per cent of the total cost through their clearance costs, with increased fees and charges expected to take their total contribution to biosecurity costs to almost $390 million from next year. This includes expanded cost recovery to include the biosecurity clearance costs of parcels and non-letter mail. We know the other side didn't want to pass on the costs of these services to industry, and that's why they were on the verge of bankrupting the Department of Agriculture, until we took charge. Taxpayers will contribute about 44 per cent of the total funding, about $350 million, and we'll also introduce a modest new biosecurity protection levy on agriculture producers, which will see them contribute six per cent— (Time expired)


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