Donate food, don’t dump it: push for tax incentives

Posted on 02 Jul 2024

By Greg Thom, journalist, Institute of Community Directors Australia

Sen Smith food relief pic 2
Senator Dean Smith (second from left) with OzHarvest CEO James Gough, SecondBite CEO Daniel Moorfield and Foodbank CEO Brianna Casey.

Opposition charities spokesman Senator Dean Smith will today introduce draft legislation in federal parliament designed to change the nation's tax system to discourage dumping food in favour of donating it to those in need.

Western Australian senator Dean Smith is the driving force behind the Incentivising Food Donations to Charitable Organisations Bill, which is backed by food relief organisations.

The Bill, to be tabled in the Senate, aims to unlock tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables, potentially delivering millions of extra meals for hungry Australians struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

The initiative was inspired by the National Food Donation Tax Incentive, developed by Foodbank, SecondBite and OzHarvest.

Senator Dean Smith is on a mission to reduce food waste.

The scheme incentivises food businesses such as farmers, wholesalers and transporters to donate surplus food and related services such as refrigeration to Australian food relief charities.

The initiative has proved successful overseas in countries such as France, Canada and the United States and was a key recommendation of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture’s report into food security in Australia.

Senator Smith said with more than 7.6 million tonnes of food wasted each year, 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,” he said.

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

“This tax incentive is smart policy and the debate in the Senate (when the bill is tabled) should be about how quickly we can introduce it, not about party politics.”
Foodbank Australia CEO Brianna Casey.

Foodbank Australia CEO Brianna Casey said there were families in Australia unable to put food on the table while tonnes of edible food were being dumped 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.

“This tax incentive is smart policy and the debate in the Senate (when the Bill is tabled) should be about how quickly we can introduce it, not about party politics.”

OzHarvest CEO James Gough agreed.

“Demand for food relief is at an all-time high and our charities are telling us they are struggling to cope with the ongoing increase in numbers.”

Mr Gough said the 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.”

Stakeholders will have a chance to make submissions and suggested changes to the Bill after it is referred to a committee for further inquiry, with a parliamentary report to be delivered by October 30.

The private Senator’s BilI represents the second time in two weeks Senator Smith has gone in to bat for the charity sector.

As reported in the Community Advocate, Senator Smith recently joined forces with peak sector body the Community Council for Australia in a bid to find a solution to unintended consequences of the Albanese government’s changes to workplace laws on the widespread use of short-term contracts in the sector.

More information

Food charities merge in bid to tackle growing hunger crisis

NFP sector pushes back on fixed-term contracting changes

Workplace legislation: for the community sector, its just not working

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