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Thursday, 6 March 2014
Page: 1883


Mr JOYCE (New EnglandMinister for Agriculture and Deputy Leader of The Nationals) (13:12): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Quarantine Charges (Collection) Bill 2014 is the final bill being introduced as part of the package to provide appropriate cost recovery arrangements for import services. These arrangements are consistent with the Australian Government Cost Recovery Guidelines.

The Quarantine Charges (Collection) Bill 2014 will provide authority to collect charges imposed under the Quarantine Charges (Imposition—General) Bill 2014, the Quarantine Charges (Imposition—Customs) Bill 2014 and the Quarantine Charges (Imposition—Excise) Bill 2014.

The bill provides that the regulations will determine the time the charge is due and payable.

The regulations under this bill will also outline the liability of a person's agent to pay charges on that person's behalf and establish appropriate late payment fees where charges are not paid in the time allowed.

Specifying such matters in regulations, as opposed to the act itself, provides the department with sufficient flexibility to ensure that these matters are appropriate in all circumstances.

The bill also provides the Commonwealth with mechanisms to appropriately deal with nonpayment. This includes powers to refuse service in relation to a person who is liable to pay a charge or late payment fee; to suspend and revoke import permits; to deal with goods and vessels to recover unpaid charges and late payment fees (including power to create a statutory charge on a good or vessel and withholding goods that are subject to a charge); to, in exceptional circumstances, sell goods and vessels that are subject to a charge or late payment fee to recover outstanding debts owed to the Commonwealth; to deal with goods or vessels that are abandoned or forfeited, including the ability to take possession, cause goods or vessels to be sold, destroyed or otherwise disposed of, and; for quarantine officers to issue directions in relation to goods and vessels that are subject to a charge. Penalties, including fines, imprisonment or both, apply to a person who engages in conduct that contravenes a direction.

Unpaid charges and late payment fees will be considered as debts to the Commonwealth and may be recovered by action in a relevant court.

The bill sets out provisions for the remitting or refunding of charges or late payment fees if there are exceptional circumstances.

The bill includes a link to provisions of the Quarantine Act 1908 where it is appropriate for consistency of operation between this bill and the Quarantine Act. It is not appropriate for different provisions and powers to apply between this bill and the Quarantine Act.

The bill sets out provisions for the remitting or refunding of charges or late payment fees if there are exceptional circumstances.

Together these four bills will ensure biosecurity import services are appropriately and validly supported. As mentioned earlier, funding the biosecurity system is critical for protecting Australia's unique animal and plant health status. It is also essential for maintaining farmers' access to overseas markets and strengthening our position as a net exporter of the highest quality agricultural goods.

Debate adjourned.