Legislative Council: Wednesday, May 17, 2023



The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (14:22): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Minister for Primary Industries on supporting the primary industry sector.

Leave granted.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: In last week's federal budget, a new food and fibre tax at a rate equivalent to 10 per cent of the 2020-21 industry-led agricultural levies has been placed on farmers to pay for biosecurity measures, despite the fact that farmers are not the risk creators. Additionally, an increased tax on the trucking industry means that heavy vehicle users will pay an additional 5.2 cents per litre in the heavy vehicle road user charge.

With already soaring costs of doing business, with significant increases in electricity prices, chemicals and wages, and now with additional taxes on the whole of the supply chain, this puts substantial pressure on our primary industries and, in turn, increased costs passed on to the consumer in the supermarket. My question to the minister is: in light of the federal budget, what is the Minister for Primary Industries doing to support our South Australian farmers and regional communities?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:23): I thank the honourable member for her question. She refers, of course, to the federal budget in which biosecurity was quite a headline. In and of itself I think that is actually a positive thing. I think it is very important that the status of biosecurity and the importance of biosecurity is raised in the public domain.

It is important that the general public, as well as industry, realise that biosecurity is a shared responsibility. If we don't share that responsibility by taking appropriate actions—for example, last year when we had the increased risk of foot-and-mouth disease emerging we talked very much about shared responsibility, whether it was travellers going to places that had foot-and-mouth disease, whether it was people receiving goods from overseas, and a variety of other measures.

We all need to be very conscious of the importance of biosecurity, and I am sure that those opposite would share the view that biosecurity is incredibly important in order to be able to protect our livestock industry and our agricultural industry.

I am advised that feedback from consultation on the development of a long-term sustainable funding model for biosecurity federally was clear, and that a strong biosecurity system is of national significance and should be funded by risk creators as well as beneficiaries. I am advised by the federal government that the biosecurity protection levy will commence on 1 July 2024, and that is to ensure that there is time to plan and negotiate new arrangements.

The new investment in the budget reverses, I am advised, a funding cliff for biosecurity that the Albanese government inherited. I am informed that without this new package, Australian government funding for the biosecurity system would have declined over the forward estimates by 15.9 per cent, a decline of almost $100 million for biosecurity, to be less than $500 million in 2025-26 and 2026-27.

I am advised that the federal budget includes more than a billion dollars in new biosecurity investments over the next four years, with over $260 million in new funding per year, ongoing and locked from 2027-28. I am further advised by the federal government that that funding increase is permanent. It is good to see the increased recognition of the importance of biosecurity, and that everyone has a role to play in strengthening Australia's biosecurity system.