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Thursday, 25 March 1999
Page: 4478


Mr VAILE (Trade) (10:07 AM) —in reply—I thank the opposition for their consideration in getting this package of bills through. The Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Bill 1998 , the Primary Industries (Customs) Charges Bill 1998 , the Primary Industries Levies and Charges (Consequential Amendments) Bill 1998 , the National Residue Survey (Excise) Levy Amendment Bill 1998 and the National Residue Survey (Customs) Levy Amendment Bill 1998 are important bills.

When I introduced this package of bills to parliament, I noted that it would make the law more accessible to those involved in agriculture, fisheries and forestry. The singular achievement of the PILA legislation is the amalgamation of 40 primary industry levy and charge acts into two main bills. This will reduce the call on the time of parliament and the public sector for the often involved process of making changes to levies and charges by reducing the number of imposition acts that will have to be amended to effect changes in the future.

The other important aspect of the PILA legislation is that it provides a framework for future levies and charges to be imposed by regulation. This will enable the government to better service industry by simplifying the processes and reducing the long lead times surrounding changes to levies and charges and by being more flexible and responsive to industry requests for such changes as well as for new or additional levies. The streamlining of the administration of levies and charges legislation will also introduce new efficiencies in the public sector.

It is important to note that the government intends that the regulation introducing new levies will be required to be accompanied by a report setting out the extent to which the proposed levy or charge complies with the government's general principles for new primary industry levies and charges when tabled in the parliament and will be subject to disallowance by parliament. In addition, the Office of Regulation Review examines new levies through its regulation impact process and a regulation impact statement is required for each new levy or charge.

Industry is supportive of the PILA legislation because it will streamline the process of amending levy rates and introducing new levies. Many sectors have taken the opportunity to request minor amendments to the legislation while it is before the parliament.

Essentially, these amendments have involved minor tidying up and reflecting changes within industry sectors which have occurred since their legislation was last before parliament. There have been some substantive changes, however. At the request of industry, the national residue survey cattle transaction levy has been changed so that the grass-fed and lot-fed components can be separately and clearly identified. The maximum levy rates for the dried fruit industry and the levy and charge rates for the honey industries have been increased at the request of those industries. I must stress that these changes do not affect the current amount of levy or charge presently paid by those industries and that, if and when the industries do seek to change their operative rates at some stage in the future, they will have to ensure that the government's levy principles and the regulation impact statement requirements are met.

I would point out, though, that the government has been pleased to show that it is responsive to industry requests by moving these amendments. In addition, the government has introduced some minor technical amendments to correct deficiencies and improve the legislation. In conclusion, the government's initiative in introducing the PILA legislation represents a major step forward in the administration of primary industries levies and charges.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.