Radical tax move could feed thousands of hungry Australians

There’s a new push to provide tax incentives for supermarkets and food suppliers to donate excess food to charities instead of dumping it. 

Western Australian Liberal Senator Dean Smith has announced that he will table a private members bill to motivate supermarkets and food suppliers to donate excess food to charities. 

The Incentivising Food Donations to Charitable Organisations Bill will be tabled today and aims to provide tax benefits to encourage donating rather than dumping food. 

It was developed with the support of food charities Foodbank, SecondBite and OzHarvest, and is designed to incentivise food businesses such as farmers, wholesalers and transporters to donate surplus food and allied services to food relief charities. In return, they’ll receive a tax rebate or offset.

Double motive

Senator Smith said the bill served two purposes. 

“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.” 

If it passes, it will provide tax incentives to businesses that donate food to charity and is based on similar policies in the US, France and Canada. The proposal was originally raised by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture inquiry into food security.

Committee chair Meryl Swanson MP said recent events had highlighted the dangers to our food supply such as floods, COVID-19 and livestock disease outbreaks.

“Systemic change is required so that all Australians, and those that depend on Australian food production, will be food secure. Consultation, cooperation, coordination and innovation are the keys to food security,” she said.

Game changer

Foodbank Australia chief executive Brianna Casey said the bill could be a game changer. 

“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,” she said.

“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.

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

Senator Smith said the bill had been costed by the parliamentary budget office and, depending on adoption of the full recommendations, it would cost between $60-$143 million. Ms Casey said that was a small price to pay considering food waste costs in Australia. 

According to government figures, it’s estimated food waste costs the Australian economy $36.6 billion each year. 

After the bill is introduced, it will be referred to a committee for inquiry, which will accept submissions from stakeholders, with a report to be delivered in October.

Do you think enough is being done about food waste? Why not share your thoughts and solutions in the comments section below?

Also read: Shoppers don’t trust retailers with their data, survey finds

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. They need to remove expiry dates from foods which don’t actually expire.
    Make them into Best Before dates and ensure that people recognize that as different to expiry dates.
    Because it is probably against some law or regulation to supply a person with a food that is past it’s expiry date.

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