The issue of hidden taxes was raised by Taxpayers Australia director Peter McDonald in recent media reports.
While one can agree or disagree with his viewpoint on the effect these “special levies” are having on the average Australian family, I question the singling out of the dairy and sugar industries, the headlines read Hidden Taxes on Milk, Sugar cost us Millions. The headlines don’t mention the Ansett levy, the Medicare levy and the Superannuation Guarantee levy. I speak only in defence of the sugar industry with which I have some experience.
The three cents a kilo levy will cost the average Australian household $1.40 a year as quoted recently by Federal Primary Industries Minister Mr Truss. If the Australian Taxpayers perceive the three cents a kilo levy on Australian consumption will change the dire situation facing farmers which is a result of bad seasons, disease and a corrupt low world price, they are wrong.
The levy will raise $120 million over five years to be used by Regional Guidance Groups in attempting to identify value adding industries for sugar (ethanol, co-generation, plastics, etc) and avenues to cost cutting, productivity gains and increased efficiencies. May I point out the latter objectives have been constantly pursued by farmers over decades.
I ask the Australian taxpayers do they agree it is right and just for a farmer to receive 18 cents from the $1.30 a kilo retail price. Incidentally a bottle of mineral water costs $1.38. Do they agree it was right and just when the tariff of $55 a tonne was removed from the domestic price in 1997? Retail price rose by 26% and the manufacturing sector profits rose fourfold while the raw sugar industry received 25% less.
Do they agree it is just that under present arrangements the raw sugar industry be paid the corrupt world price for our domestic requirements? These are just some of the facts taxpayers should consider before passing judgement on the sugar industry levy and I dare say the same would apply to our de-regulated dairy industry.
Airdmillan Via Ayr, Qld