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Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Page: 4122

Mr BURKE (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister for Population) (9:59 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Amendment Bill 2010 amends the Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Act 1999 to increase the maximum allowable levy rate cap on the research and development component of the laying chickens levy from 10 to 30 cents per laying chicken.

Australian Egg Corporation Limited, on behalf of the egg industry, has requested that its operative research and development levy rate be increased from 10 cents to 13.5 cents per laying chicken. Meeting this request requires a change to legislation as there is currently a maximum allowable cap of 10 cents under the act.

The egg industry put forward this proposal to assist it in meeting an expansion in research and development objectives outlined in its 2008-12 strategic plan. The industry undertook an extensive period of debate and consultation in coming to its recommendation to increase its levy rate. The decision was ultimately put to a vote where a majority of egg producers supported this change. The government has endorsed this recommendation from industry.

The government has decided to increase the cap from 10 to 30 cents at this time to cover potential future levy increases that the industry may seek to accommodate new strategic directions and the impacts of inflation. Of course any change to the operative rate within the cap will require the industry to demonstrate compliance with the levies principles and guidelines, particularly to demonstrate industry support for any change. It would then need to be approved by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, with the necessary regulations then put to the federal executive council and tabled in parliament. Following the passage of this bill, the government intends to put forward amendments to the Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Regulations 1999 to give effect to the levy increase to 13.5 cents per laying chicken.

Australia’s primary industries have a strong tradition of being innovative and adaptive to new challenges. The government’s investment in research and development and innovation is vital for ongoing growth and improvement in the productivity, profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of Australia’s agriculture, fisheries, forestry and food industries. Levies provide an effective system to support this. The government remains committed to supporting jobs in rural industries through increasing productivity and vital research and development, including the egg industry.

Debate (on motion by Mrs Gash) adjourned.