• L-R: Foodbank Australia CEO Brianna Casey, SecondBite director of Government Relations & Strategy, Solly Fahiz, OzHarvest CEO James Goth, and Senator Dean Smith. 
At OzHarvest's Sydney HQ for the announcement West Australian senator, Dean Smith, will be putting forward his Private Senator’s Bill – the Incentivising Food Donations to Charitable Organisations Bill in the senate on 3 July.
    L-R: Foodbank Australia CEO Brianna Casey, SecondBite director of Government Relations & Strategy, Solly Fahiz, OzHarvest CEO James Goth, and Senator Dean Smith. At OzHarvest's Sydney HQ for the announcement West Australian senator, Dean Smith, will be putting forward his Private Senator’s Bill – the Incentivising Food Donations to Charitable Organisations Bill in the senate on 3 July.
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Legislation to stop tonnes of edible fresh produce from being dumped and instead, used to reduce food insecurity, will be tabled in the senate next week, with West Australian senator, Dean Smith, putting forward his Private Senator’s Bill – the Incentivising Food Donations to Charitable Organisations Bill.

The legislation would change Australia’s tax system to encourage the donation, rather than dumping, of food. It has the potential to deliver millions of extra meals a year to those experiencing food insecurity, as well as helping the country reach its bipartisan commitment to halve food waste by 2030.

Announcing the bill at OzHarvest’s Sydney factory this morning, Smith stood with leaders of Australia’s food charity sector – Brianna Casey from Foodbank Australia, James Goth from OzHarvest, and Solly Fahiz from SecondBite – and said it was a long time coming and it was time to end the national shame of seeing edible fresh produce being ploughed back into the ground.

Casey said, “People across Australia have woken up today to the news that there may well be another interest rate increase. We know that with this month's inflation figures, the pressures and demands on families have never been greater than they are right now.

L-R: OzHarvest CEO James Gough, Senator Dean Smith, Foodbank Australia CEO Brianna Casey, and SecondBite director of Government Relations & Strategy, Solly Fahiz.
At the announcement West Australian senator, Dean Smith, will be putting forward his Private Senator’s Bill – the Incentivising Food Donations to Charitable Organisations Bill in the senate on 3 July.
L-R: OzHarvest CEO James Goth, Senator Dean Smith, Foodbank Australia CEO Brianna Casey, and SecondBite director of Government Relations & Strategy, Solly Fahiz. At the announcement West Australian senator, Dean Smith, will be putting forward his Private Senator’s Bill – the Incentivising Food Donations to Charitable Organisations Bill in the senate on 3 July.

“Demand for food relief across Australia is skyrocketing and we simply cannot keep up with the needs in our communities.

“We know that fresh fruit vegetables and protein are in particularly short supply, and we need to ensure that we have got everyday access to these essential items. Right now, the taxation system doesn’t recognise and reward the hard work of our farmers. In fact, it makes it more difficult for us to receive these donations.

“This law would be a game changer. We need to get more fresh fruits, vegetables, and more protein into our communities because the cost-of-living crisis isn't going away. This is a terrific piece of legislation, and we look forward to it being implemented and changing the nature of food relief Australia.”

Smith said the bill represented a single, straightforward solution to two problems.

“Food relief charities are fighting to meet unprecedented demand, while at the same time an unbelievable amount of food is dumped each year, much of it edible, and often because it’s cheaper than donating it.

“My Private Senator’s Bill – originally shaped by the National Food Donation Tax Incentive and refined through close consultation with the charity sector – is aimed at turning that around and delivering meaningful help to Australians in need,” Smith said.

The National Food Donation Tax Incentive was developed by Foodbank, SecondBite, and OzHarvest, and presented at the National Food Waste Summit last year. It would incentivise food businesses, such as farmers, wholesalers, and transporters, to donate surplus food and allied services to food relief charities.

The incentive has garnered support in recent parliamentary inquiries and was an important recommendation in the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture’s Report into Food Security in Australia. (You can listen to committee chair, Meryl Swanson, talking about the tax incentive on this episode of the Food & Drink Business podcast.)

There was extensive industry consultation behind the food relief agencies’ model taken from businesses in all parts of the food supply chain and ranging from national to local companies. What it revealed was overwhelming whole-of-sector support and endorsement, and recognition of the opportunity it would great to shift the dial on redirecting surplus food.

Similar schemes work successfully overseas including in France, Canada, and the US.

Benefits to outweigh costs

Smith said the bill had been costed by the parliamentary budget office and depending on the full scope of the initiative it would cost between $60-$143 million.

“This is a good use of taxpayers’ money, not a wasteful one. This should be a priority spending issue because the cost-of-living crisis is real, it’s immediate, and it’s being felt by people today.

“That is coupled with the challenge being faced by Australian charities. The demand on them is cumulative, this isn’t something that has been happening over the last few weeks, this has been happening over the last 12 to 18 months.”

Casey stressed the importance of the bill.

“This tax incentive is smart policy and the debate in the Senate next week should be about how quickly we can introduce it, not about party politics.

“Yes, there is a cost, but when compared to food waste, which costs the country $36.6 billion every year, this is not a cost, it is a benefit to the community.

“We have families unable to put food on the table despite tonnes of perfectly edible food being dumped or ploughed in each year. We know that households under financial pressure have been forced to reduce – or even remove – their spend on fresh fruit and vegetables and protein, meaning demand for these products at food banks across Australia has skyrocketed,” she said.

Casey added Foodbank’s research and experience shows a direct correlation between interest rate rises and the need for food relief.

OzHarvest CEO, James Goth, said food relief demand was at an “all-time high”, with charities telling OzHarvest they’re struggling to cope with the ongoing increase of people in need.

“This bill has the potential to get edible food off farms and onto the plates of those who need it most, addressing food security and food waste simultaneously.

“It’s crucial for politicians to recognise this need in the community and unite to implement this reform,” Gough said.

SecondBite CEO, Daniel Moorfield, added, “We are committed to working with the government and all stakeholders to ensure the successful implementation of this tax incentive.

“Together, we can make a lasting impact on the lives of millions of Australians and move closer to achieving our food waste reduction goals.”

The bill will be introduced into the senate on 3 July and referred to a committee for inquiry.

Stakeholders will have an opportunity to make submissions on possible changes and improvements, with a Parliamentary report to be delivered by 30 October.

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