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Thursday, 10 May 2012
Page: 4627

Mr ADAMS (Lyons) (10:08): The Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2012 will make minor amendments to a range of portfolio legislation. The bill will amend eight portfolio acts to improve the operation of the existing legislation and make technical amendments. We need to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of regulation, reduce red tape and create clearer Commonwealth laws. It is always important to have easily read legislation. These proposed amendments will reduce complexity and unnecessary regulation, provide consistency, amend outdated and unclear provisions, and reduce the likelihood of reader confusion. Mr Deputy Speaker, you would be well inclined to support that. The bill will also repeal one redundant act in its entirety—the old soldier settlers act. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry consulted relevant Australian government departments and agencies on the proposed fisheries amendments. The department also consulted relevant industry stakeholders on the proposed amendments to the wine legislation. So the proposed amendments involve minor policy changes to four portfolio acts. These are the Wine Australia Corporation Act 1980, the Fisheries Management Act 1991, the Fisheries Administration Act 1991 and the Primary Industries Levies and Charges Collection Act 1991. The first amendment relates to the Label Integrity Program. The program aims to ensure the truthfulness of label claims on vintage, variety or geographical indication of wine manufactured in Australia. It relies on accurate record-keeping so that wine goods and their labels may be audited effectively and efficiently—and wouldn't that be the right thing to do and also a great thing for those who are running vineyards and making a living from their vineyards? So it is making sure that we have integrity in what we put on the label and that people know what they are buying. So from the vineyard to the bottle and to the glass you can tell someone—and they can learn and understand—exactly what grape variety it was, what year it was made, when it was laid down and went into the bottle and what was put on those vines. We get into a situation now where agriculture has to be able to show what went into producing the product, the food, the beverage. We need to be able to show the consumer that, and this will be an advantage for Australian agriculture into the future because we will be able to do that.

I understand that in the electorate of Braddon of my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, there is actually a camera that shows broccoli growing and that that image is shown in a restaurant in Japan so people can see what they are eating: broccoli, growing in Tasmania. This gives integrity and can show people that. People want it and consumers into the future around the world will want to know what they are eating and drinking and where that comes from and what has been added to make that happen—and Australian agriculture can make these things happen for itself into the future. So this sort of thinking can really keep things going.

The program was amended in 2010 to extend record-keeping requirements to all participants in the wine supply chain. Before these amendments, the program focused on 'wine manufacturers' and did not provide for an adequate audit trail throughout the supply chain. However, since these amendments have been implemented, retailers and wholesalers have raised some concerns that the record-keeping requirements are too onerous. The proposed changes respond to those concerns and have been agreed to by retailers and wholesalers and the wine industry representative bodies. The proposed amendments would reduce the record-keeping requirements of people who supply or receive wine goods that are packaged for sale to a consumer. Suppliers and retailers who do not change labels or effect any label changes about wine goods would be required to provide the Wine Australia Corporation auditors with details of the manufacturer or supplier of the wine goods, rather than with full details of the supplier, recipient, goods receiver, vintage and geographic indication. Of course, they are all significant things for wine and for the wine industry, because there are people who spend their whole lives getting to know where the best wine grape grows and of course we have all had those arguments around the dinner table, Mr Deputy Speaker. This maintains the integrity of the program while meeting the practical requirements of suppliers and retailers.

The second amendment to the Wine Australia Corporation Act 1980 relates to the definition of 'vintage'. A producer does not have to describe the vintage year on a label but if a producer chooses to describe the vintage they must follow the rules relating to 'vintage' claims—and of course that gives integrity to that label. The 'vintage' indicates the year in which the grapes used to make a wine were grown. For example, when specifying 'vintage' on a label, a vintage year is considered to be the period from 1 July to 30 June the following year and appears on the label as the second of those two calendar years. Harvest normally occurs from the late summer, finishing before 30 June. Sometimes producers make wine from grapes harvested after 30 June but before 1 September. For example, producers of sweet dessert wine styles leave grapes on the vine for extended periods to increase the sugar levels and develop dessert wine characteristics.

To provide for more accurate labelling of those late harvested products, this amendment will change the definition of 'vintage' so that a vintage year is considered to be the period from 1 September to 31 August. For example, a wine made from grapes harvested from 1 September 2012 to 31 August 2013 could be labelled as a 2013 wine. The proposed changes respond to concerns raised by producers and are supported by wine industry representative bodies.

Schedule 3 of the bill will amend the Fisheries Management Act 1991 to explain requirements for directions to close a fishery, or a particular part of a fishery, to fishing. Amendments will be made to section 41A to correct some grammatical errors and delete redundant text. These amendments will better reflect the intention of the provision. Amendments will also be made for consistency and to simplify the administration of section 41A. It is an express condition of most types of fishing concessions, permits and licences granted under the Fisheries Management Act 1991 that the holder comply with a direction given under subsection 41A(2) to close a fishery, or part of a fishery. The amendments will remove the need for a separate decision or regulatory process to make the condition apply to statutory fishing rights. They will also ensure consistency among provisions that make compliance with directions a condition of other types of fishing concessions. These amendments do not change the meaning of section 41A, or of other provisions on conditions on concessions, but they will explain the meaning of such a provision to ensure consistency, reduce the likelihood of reader confusion and simplify the administration of the act.

Schedule 5 of the bill will amend the Primary Industries Levies and Charges Collection Act 1991 to allow the departmental secretary to consider all requests made by levy payers for the remission of penalties. The amendments will not make any changes to the substance of the law. Levy payers who are not satisfied with a decision made by the department will still have an opportunity to approach the minister to review a decision made by the department. At present, only the portfolio minister can remit amounts of penalty exceeding $5,000.

Schedule 7 of the bill will amend the Farm Household Support Act 1992 to remove specific references to departments and secretaries in the act so that, when changes are made to the administrative arrangements orders, the act will not require amendment.

Schedule 8 of the bill repeals a redundant act—the States Grants (War Service Land Settlement) Act 1952. The Australian government negotiated the sale and transfer of the War Service Land Settlement Scheme to each of the respective states. Western Australia was the last jurisdiction to operate the scheme. The Commonwealth and Western Australia executed a cessation deed on 3 May 2011. The legislation is now redundant and may be repealed. This legislation worked for a lot of returned soldiers, helped them get on the land. Some would say some of them did okay, because they got the right piece of land; others got the wrong piece of land, worked hard and probably never achieved very much. The neighbour bought them out and probably made a property that became successful.

A cousin of mine, Pucka Saltmarsh, farmed on King Island and his son, my cousin Kim Saltmarsh farmed there for many years along that old soldier settlers block. It is well known in Tasmania that people settled land and were able to go into farming under this old act and gave our returned servicemen an opportunity to do what they wanted to do.

This is really a tidy up act that will have no financial impact on government finances. The amendments make minor policy and technical changes that will improve administration of portfolio legislation, tidy up a lot of words that were hard to understand, give us a clearer picture of how the act works and how the legislation flows. It will help the improved administration of portfolio legislation and do that quite well. That is a very good thing to achieve. These are good acts tidying up good legislation. Congratulations to the minister and the parliamentary secretary for getting good work done. I support the bill.