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Thursday, 14 March 2002
Page: 1300


Mr TRUSS (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (9:46 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Horticulture Marketing and Research and Development Services (Amendment) Bill 2002 bill seeks to amend the Horticulture Marketing and Research and Development Services Act 2000—the HMRDS Act—to deem Horticulture Australia Ltd, HAL, in its capacity as the export control body under the act to be a Commonwealth agency for the purposes of section 16 of the Customs Administration Act 1985—the Customs act.

Currently HAL has the function of administering export controls on behalf of horticultural industries as the company has been declared the export control body under subsection 9(2) of the HMRDS Act.

HAL commenced business on 1 February 2001, taking over the functions previously undertaken by the Horticultural Research and Development Corporation, the Australian Horticultural Corporation and the Australian Dried Fruits Board. HAL is an industry owned company that the Commonwealth has entered into arrangements with for delivery of marketing and research and development services to the horticulture industry.

The AHC previously administered export controls on behalf of horticultural industries. During the period of its operation, the AHC could access information from the Australian Customs Service EXIT database to enable it to exercise appropriate management over export control powers.

As HAL does not meet the criteria of a Commonwealth agency under section 16 of the Customs act, the ACS has advised HAL that it is no longer able to provide information from its EXIT database to the company. Yet the intention of the HMRDS Act is that the export control body—namely, HAL— should be able to exercise similar but no greater powers to those exercised by the former AHC and thus should be able to obtain access to Customs EXIT database information.

The proposed Horticulture Marketing and Research and Development Services (Amendment) Bill 2002 amends the HMRDS Act to deem HAL, in its capacity as the export control body, to be a Commonwealth agency for the purposes of section 16 of the Customs Administration Act 1985. This amendment will ensure that HAL can exercise appropriate management over current export control powers in place, and any future export controls that may be put in place, by being able to access information in the ACS EXIT database to show evidence of any breaches that may have occurred in contravention of the export controls.

This bill does not create any new administrative burden and has no financial implications for the Commonwealth.

Mr Speaker, I am sure you will be very interested in this little piece of legislation, which I commend to the whole House. I present the explanatory memorandum.

Debate (on motion by Mr Albanese) adjourned.