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Wednesday, 6 July 2011
Page: 7720

Dr MIKE KELLY (Eden-MonaroParliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (10:31): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Horse Disease Response Levy Bill 2011 and its two companion bills will provide a mechanism for the horse industry to meet its obligations under the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement, and respond to future emergency disease outbreaks affecting the industry.

Governments and industry beneficiaries have a shared interest in ensuring that an emergency animal disease is brought under control as quickly as possible.

The Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement is a world-first cost-sharing arrangement that enables Australia to resp­ond quickly and efficiently to emergency animal disease outbreaks.

It sets out the roles, responsibilities and cost-sharing arrangements for its signatories. Current signatories to the agreement are the Commonwealth, all state and territory governments, Animal Health Australia and 11 livestock industries.

Being able to respond quickly minimises the potential impact of an emergency animal disease outbreak on Australia's agricultural production, valuable exports, the environ­ment and public health.

Livestock industries also receive consid­erable benefits from a response to an emergency disease in terms of trade and market access, and through minimisation of livestock and production cost losses.

If an emergency animal disease outbreak occurs and it is agreed that a national response is required, the Commonwealth will initially meet a signatory industry's cost-sharing obligations on the basis that the industry will repay the Commonwealth within a reasonable time period.

Most livestock industries have statutory levies in place to enable them to fund their share of costs of national emergency respon­ses. An emergency animal disease response levy is usually set to zero and only activated when an emergency animal disease incident occurs.

Some industries have chosen to set a positive operative levy to provide the industry with a fund to respond quickly on its cost-sharing requirements, or to invest funds to increase their biosecurity.

The Australian Horse Industry Council, Equestrian Australia, Harness Racing Australia and the Australian Racing Board signed the agreement on behalf of the horse industry in March 2011.

To enable it to meet its obligations under the agreement, the horse industry submitted a levy proposal to the Commonwealth. The proposal requested that zero rated levies be imposed on manufactured horse feed and worm treatments for horses on the horse industry.

In developing the proposal, the horse industry undertook extensive consultation, and a range of levy options were discussed at the national, state and local levels of the horse-owning community. The horse indus­try decided that the simultaneous application of levies on worm treatments and manufactured horse feed would provide the most equitable coverage of the horse industry.

This bill and its companion bills provide the framework for these levies to be imposed, and are an important step in enabling the horse industry to manage future emergency animal disease outbreaks.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.