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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Page: 110

Dr MIKE KELLY (Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (11:19 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Amendment Bill 2010 amends the Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Act 1999 to increase the maximum allowable levy rate cap on the research and development component of the laying chickens levy from 10c to 30c per laying chicken.

Australian Egg Corporation Limited has requested on behalf of the egg industry that its operative research and development levy rate be increased from 10c to13.5c per laying chicken. To meet this request, a change to legislation is required as there is currently a maximum allowable cap of 10c under the act.

The egg industry put forward this proposal to assist it in expanding the research and development objectives outlined in its 2008-12 strategic plan. The industry undertook an extensive period of debate and consultation in coming to its recommendation to increase its levy rate. The decision was ultimately put to a vote, conducted from December 2008 to January 2009, where egg producers representing almost 80 per cent of the industry’s production supported this change. The government has endorsed this recommendation from industry.

The government has decided to increase the cap from 10c to 30c at this time to cover potential future levy increases that the industry may seek to accommodate for its new strategic directions and the impacts of inflation. Any change to the operative rate within the cap will require the industry to demonstrate compliance with the levy principles and guidelines, particularly to demonstrate industry support for any change. It would then need to be approved by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, with the necessary regulations then put to the Executive Council and tabled in parliament. Following the passage of this bill, the government intends to put forward amendments to the Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Regulations 1999 to give effect to the levy increase to 13.5c per laying chicken.

Australia’s primary industries have a strong tradition of being innovative and adaptive. The government’s investment in research, development and innovation for agriculture, fisheries, forestry and food is vital for ongoing growth and improvement in the productivity, profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of Australian primary industries. Levies provide an effective system to support this. The government remains committed to supporting jobs in rural industries through increasing productivity and vital research and development, including the egg industry. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Keenan) adjourned.