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Thursday, 22 April 1999
Page: 4122

Senator TROETH (12:53 PM) —The most important thing to note about this legislation is that it will make the law more accessible to those involved in agriculture, fisheries and forestry. The main achievement of this 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 this 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 industries by simplifying the processes, reducing the long lead times surrounding changes to levies and charges and 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 would also introduce new efficiencies to the public sector.

It is important to note that the government intends that, when tabled in parliament, a 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 industries levies and charges. Such a regulation 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 this primary industries levies amalgamation legislation, as it will streamline the process of amending levy rates and introducing new levies. I would point out to Senator O'Brien that many industry sectors took the opportunity to request minor amendments to the legislation while it was before parliament. The amendments moved in the Main Committee demonstrated the responsiveness of this government to industry's requests, and other minor technical amendments to correct deficiencies and improve the legislation were moved while the bill was before the House. This government is being very responsive to industry in terms of what industry wants. I am pleased to say that the House passed the amendments and that industry will benefit from this. In conclusion, this government's initiative in introducing this legislation represents a major step forward in the administration of primary industries levies and charges, and I commend the bills to the Senate.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bills read a second time, and passed through their remaining stages without amendment or debate.