A Riverina farmer has labelled the federal government's proposed new biosecurity levy on primary producers counter-intuitive amid the rising cost of living.
The federal Labor government is currently calling for public feedback on its planned new Biosecurity Protection Levy on agriculture, fisheries and forestry producers, set to come into place by mid next year.
"When people are under such pressures [as] the [current rising] cost of living... anything that's going to increase the cost of food doesn't make sense," Mr McColl said.
"It's certainly not equitable."
Mr McColl said farmers already make a significant contribution to biosecurity funding and raised concerns over whether the money would even be used to further that purpose.
"The proposed new... levy is not quarantined to biosecurity and has the potential to be utilised as part of general revenue," he said.
"If they are going to call it a biosecurity levy, 100 per cent of it should be allocated to that purpose."
Mr McColl said if the money will not go towards its stated purpose, then it's "just another tax."
"[The farming] industry pays a considerable number of fees and levies, of which quite a considerable amount goes into that," he said.
Mr McColl argued that importers pay their fair share for the risk they pose to the country.
"We still don't have any information regarding the likelihood a container levy will be implemented for importers to pay their share for the creation of [biosecurity] risks when they are clearly a major contributor to that," he said.
In mid-2022, Foot and Mouth Disease was confirmed in livestock in neighbouring Indonesia, causing significant concern for Australian farmers, although no case has yet been detected down under.
But Mr McColl said if the disease were to reach Australia, it could cost the industry up to $80 billion.
Member for Riverina Michael McCormack also slammed the idea of "slugging" farmers throughout the region with a new tax.
"Farmers are a vital part of our region as they support rural communities and provide us with fresh, healthy and affordable food," Mr McCormack said.
"The new tax on farmers will inevitably be passed on to consumers, meaning even higher grocery bills for Riverina and Central West residents already suffering from higher cost-of-living pressures.
"I urge those who are concerned about this potential impost on their livelihoods to register on the website and have your say."
Deputy secretary of biosecurity and compliance Dr Chris Locke said the proposed new levy is asking producers to "contribute... [the] equivalent to six per cent of commonwealth biosecurity funding in 2024/25."
"By comparison, importers will contribute around 48% and the taxpayer will contribute around 44%.
"We want to make sure that biosecurity protection levy arrangements are practical, and that implementation and administration costs are as low as possible for all parties.
"I encourage those with an interest in the biosecurity protection levy to get involved in the consultation."
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