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Thursday, 11 September 2003
Page: 19930


Mr TRUSS (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (10:05 AM) —in reply—I thank the shadow minister for his contribution to the debate on the National Residue Survey (Customs) Levy Amendment Bill 2002, the National Residue Survey (Excise) Levy Amendment Bill 2002, the National Residue Survey (Customs) Levy Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2003 and the National Residue Survey (Excise) Levy Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2003 and for the support of the opposition for this noncontroversial legislation. It is important that industries take control of their own arrangements and make recommendations appropriate to their needs to the government in relation to their levies, which do have the potential to make, and are indeed making, a very significant contribution to the growth and development of these industries.

As the shadow minister pointed out, the four bills being dealt with here concern the National Residue Survey (Customs) Levy Act and the National Residue Survey (Excise) Levy Act and make changes to the levy arrangements in relation to apples, pears and honey. Concerning the apples and pears, there is no proposal to change the size of the levy, just the way in which it is calculated, moving the method of calculation away from the per box rate to a per kilogram rate. That obviously makes commonsense in this day and age, when changes are being made in the size and nature of packaging. On behalf of the industry, the Australian Apple and Pear Growers Association, which is now called Apple and Pear Australia Ltd, sought and received government approval to change the method of calculating the levy to reflect this change in practices. There will be similar changes to the operative rates, which have already been made by regulation to apple and pear levies and charges imposed by the Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Act 1999 and the Primary Industries (Customs) Charges Act 1999. The levies recover the cost of the apple and pear industry's residue monitoring program.

In relation to the bills concerning honey, the purpose of this legislation is to raise the maximum levy rate allowable for the purposes of residue monitoring on honey exported from Australia and on honey produced in Australia from the present rate of 0.3c per kilogram to 0.6c per kilogram. The current operative rate of the national residue survey levy is set in the regulation at the maximum allowable rate of 0.3c per kilogram. That levy recovers the cost of the honey industry's residue monitoring program that is required for market access. The amendments are part of a package of strategies being put in place on behalf of the honey industry that will allow the industry the scope to expand its operative rate of levy by subordinate legislation, where access to further funding for residue monitoring programs may be required at short notice. There is no plan to increase the rate of levy at the moment, and any request to do so, as the shadow minister has said, would be at the behest of industry and subject to separate approval. I commend the bills to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that the bill be reported to the House without amendment.