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Labor's trust issues need explaining

25 July 2017

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is seeking more information from, and consultation with, Labor about their plans to reform trusts.

The peak farming body only became aware of Labor’s proposed plans through media reports starting late last week.

“It is disappointing that we have not, to date, been consulted on the change by any member of Labor Party,” NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar said.

Mr Mahar said, while the actual policy is yet to be announced, the sector was concerned by reports, that if elected, Labor would make wide-ranging changes to taxation of trust structures.

“Family trusts play an important role in Australian agriculture. Any move to make changes to the way trusts are taxed or administered needs to be carefully considered.”

Mr Mahar said trusts helped farmers manage the significant volatility a farm business faces year to year.

“A trust enables farmers to offset costs in the good years to weather the not-so-good years.

Mr Mahar said trusts also helped with the complex task of farm succession by allowing assets to be owned across generations.

“Securing the next crop of farmers is vital to the continued success of our sector.

“Tools, such as trusts, that make the succession process smoother, must be preserved.”

The NFF has contacted the Opposition looking for clarity on the party’s tax reform plans.

“As a matter of urgency, we have sought a conversation with the Opposition, to learn about Labor’s plans and to explain the manner in which the farm sector uses trusts.”  

“Australian agriculture contributes more than $60 billion to the national economy each year –in on-farm production alone.

“Farmers require tax and regulatory mechanisms that facilitate their growth and future prosperity. Not hinders it.”

Mr Mahar called on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, and Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen to consider the wide application of trusts across the Australian business environment.

“I urge Labor not to be short sighted when it comes tax reform and to carefully consider the holistic implications of change to policy settings.”  

“Cross-industry consultation, on any touted reform, including with the farm sector is crucial”

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