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Tuesday, 18 June 2013
Page: 6103


Mr SIDEBOTTOM (BraddonParliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (16:38): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Sugar Research and Development Services Bill 2013 and the Sugar Research and Development Services (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013 were introduced into the House of Representatives on 5 June 2013. These bills provide the mechanism to implement key elements of reforms to sugar research and development (R&D) arrangements requested by the sugar industry.

Under the reforms, the Sugar Research and Development Corporation (SRDC) and BSES Limited will be wound up and their assets and research and development functions, along with the research coordination activities of Sugar Research Limited, transferred to Sugar Research Australia Limited (SRA). SRA is an industry owned company recently established by the sugar industry.

The Sugar Research and Development Services Bill 2013 provides the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry with the power to enter into a funding contract with an eligible company, currently proposed to be Sugar Research Australia Ltd to enable it to receive and invest levies collected by the Commonwealth for research and development. It will also allow it to receive the Commonwealth's matching funding for eligible research and development expenditure up to a determined funding cap.

Once the funding contract is in place and the minister is satisfied that SRA will comply with its contractual and statutory obligations, the minister can declare the company to be the industry services body.

The industry services body will be funded by a statutory levy of 70c per tonne of sugar cane that is processed, or sold for processing, to be paid equally by growing and milling businesses—35c per tonne each.

Currently, the Sugar Research and Development Services (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013 includes provisions that relate to imposition and collection of the sugar cane levy. It also covers matters arising from the transition to a new industry services body.

Section 55 of the Constitution states that laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation, and any provision therein dealing with any other matter shall be of no effect.

Consequently, this bill together with the government's amendments to the Sugar Research and Development Services (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013, are required to ensure that the sugar reform legislation does not contravene section 55 of the Constitution.

The government has prepared amendments to the Sugar Research and Development Services (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013 to separate those provisions relating to imposition of the levy from those relating to collection and transitional matters by removing the imposition provisions. The imposition provisions are now included in this bill.

This will ensure the provisions relating to collection and transitional matters will have full effect. The policy and provisions remain unchanged. Thank you.

Debate adjourned.