Minister rejects methane tax plan

TAXES on emissions levied on farmers in New Zealand will not be implemented in Australia, Federal Agricultural Minister Murray Watt says.

New Zealand is set to introduce a scheme that will see farmers pay for their on-farm emissions, which includes methane and nitrous oxide produced by livestock. Speaking to Tasmanian Country late last week, Senator Watt ruled out Australia following in the footsteps of New Zealand in implementing such strategies.

“We have no plans to introduce the sort of tax measures that we’re seeing in New Zealand, Mr Watt said. “The reason is they have a very different challenge to Australia, agriculture forms a significant amount of their emissions, I think it’s about half, whereas it’s a much smaller proportion in Australia. The implementation of the tax in New Zealand comes as Australia considers signing the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to cut methane emission by 30 per cent by 2030.

Australian Dairy Farmers president Rick Gladigau called the move “ill-informed and ill-timed”. “Signing the pledge does not consider viable pathways for methane mitigation, Mr Gladigau said. “These are yet to be established. “Any future policy for mitigating methane emissions should appropriately recognise and support our efforts in the dairy sector and consider modelling that explores viable pathways for methane mitigation.”

Senator Watt said Australia’s agricultural industry was more advanced in emission reductions than it was given credit for. “I think we got to a point that the agriculture sector was well ahead of the former government in wanting to make changes around climate change and sustainability,” Mr Watt said.

“I think that creates some incredible opportunities to work cooperatively with industry and I’ve been really encouraged by the enthusiasm for doing that since I have become minister.”

Senator Watt spent time travelling Tasmania where, among other sites, he visited Sea Forest at Triabunna. Sea Forest is researching the possibilities of implementing bioactive compounds found within Asparagopsis seaweed into livestock feed, reducing methane output by up to 98 per cent.

“I found it really interesting to see firsthand what’s been done at Triabunna and it obviously provides some incredible opportunities to reduce emissions through simple use of technology.”