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Tuesday, 23 May 1972
Page: 1908


Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) - I agree with the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman). I think that we are in perfect agreement as to what does happen and what should happen. The point I make is that the draftsman has not put into the Bill language to ensure that what the Minister intends should happen will happen. First, the amount becomes payable 28 days after the last day of the month in which the product is sold by the producer. If no arrangement is made for the levy to be deducted from the cheque, the liability to meet that levy, as the Minister states is on the producer.

I take the matter no further. I accept the interpretation contained in the Minister's reply on sub-clause (8.) of clause 6, and perhaps it makes me incorrect in seeking certain relief as no relief is necessary. But, to my mind, this interpretation makes the position of the producer more serious. Sub-clause (7.) provides:

Where, under this section, levy is paid on behalf of the producer of whole milk or butter fat by, or an amount in respect of levy payable by the producer of whole milk or butter fat is recovered by the Commonwealth from, another person, the producer is, to the extent of the amount so paid or recovered, discharged from so much of his liability to the Commonwealth to pay that levy as has not previously been discharged by virtue of sub-section (5.) of this section.

If the producer has paid the levy to the purchaser, then the producer has no further liability for that part of the payment that the purchaser has paid to the Government. The Government has an action against the purchaser. But sub-clause (8.) states:

Where the Minister is satisfied that it would, by reason of special circumstances, be unreasonable to require a person to pay, or to pay in full, an amount payable by him under sub-section (1.) of this section, the Minister may release that person in whole or in part from his liability, but such a release does not affect the liability of any other person.

As the Minister points out, this provision relates always to the purchaser. The producer has paid the purchaser. He may have deducted from the purchaser's cheque such amount as is necessary to pay the levy.

In the case where the purchaser defaults on payment of the levy, sub-clause (8.) provides that where the purchaser has no money and it would be unreasonable to take action against the purchaser for recovery of the levy which has been paid by the producer, the Minister will take no further action against the purchaser but will take action then against the producer and demand from him payment of twice the payment necessary to meet the levy imposed under this legislation. Therefore, the penalty upon the producer is a double one. The situation is that the purchaser who has received his payment has not transmitted the amount of the levy to the Government. Because of his financial position or some other hardship the Government says that prosecution of him would be unreasonable. The Government says further: 'We will not prosecute him; we will prosecute the producer.' The producer has no hope of recovering from the purchaser the amount that he has paid. Surely the treatment of producers proposed by this sub-clause is not the way in which members of the Country Party would wish to see them treated.







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