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Wednesday, 16 August 2006
Page: 1

Ms LEY (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (9:01 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The National Cattle Disease Eradication Account Amendment Bill 2006 (the bill) will enable residual cattle and buffalo industry levies, collected under the bovine tuberculosis and bovine brucellosis eradication campaigns, to be transferred to a more broadly based industry disease fund.

For many years the cattle and buffalo industries have contributed, through levies, to the National Cattle Disease Eradication Account (NCDEA). These funds were used in initiatives to eradicate brucellosis and tuberculosis, most recently through the Tuberculosis Freedom Assurance Program (TFAP). Successive campaigns have resulted in both diseases being considered to be eradicated in Australia. This is a major achievement that other countries are unable to claim and a shining example of government and industry partnership.

As the Tuberculosis Freedom Assurance Program will conclude on 31 December 2006, the cattle and buffalo industries have requested that residual funds in the National Cattle Disease Eradication Trust Account be transferred into the more broadly focused Cattle Disease Contingency Fund (CDCF).

The Cattle Disease Contingency Fund is a trust fund that was established in 2002 by the cattle industry and Animal Health Australia (AHA) in order to fund various animal health activities which are to the benefit of the cattle industry in Australia. The funds may be used for a number of specified purposes, including prevention, eradication and control of endemic or exotic cattle diseases, research and other animal health activities likely to benefit the Australian cattle industry.

In comparison to the NCDEA, there is significantly greater scope for the application of funds held in the CDCF. The increased autonomy and flexibility in the use of the levy moneys will strengthen the cattle industry’s ability to address biosecurity issues, to conduct research and risk mitigation activities, and to respond to incursions of exotic diseases.

The bill amends the current National Cattle Disease Eradication Account Act 1991 to add a clause that will enable payments to be made from the trust account to the CDCF. The bill also includes the addition of a clause that clearly defines the CDCF for the purposes of the act.

The bill enables funds remaining after the successful completion of the brucellosis and TB programs to be used in the ongoing work of building a strong biosecurity framework for the Australian cattle industry. It will further help maintain the competitiveness of Australia’s agricultural industries through an outstanding animal health status. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Murphy) adjourned.