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Thursday, 23 June 1994
Page: 1969


Senator O'CHEE —On behalf of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, I give notice that, at the next giving of notices on the next day of sitting, Senator Colston shall withdraw business of the Senate notice of motion No. 2 standing in his name for four sitting days after today. I seek leave to make a short statement.

  Leave granted.


Senator O'CHEE —On 30 May 1994, the Chairman of the Senate Regulations and Ordinances Committee, Senator Colston, reported to the Senate on the committee's concerns with this instrument which related to discretions which are not subject to review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The minister has now provided the committee with information which meets our concerns, although the committee will be contacting the Administrative Review Council about matters arising from the scrutiny of orders. As usual, I seek leave to incorporate the committee's correspondence in Hansard.

  Leave granted.

  The correspondence read as follows

6 May 1994

The Hon David Beddall, MP

Minister for Resources

Parliament House

CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Minister

I refer to the Meat Inspection (Fees) Orders, Meat Inspection Orders No 1 of 1994, considered by the Committee at its meeting of 5 May 1994.

The Explanatory Statement advises that the Orders will result in total fees being reduced by $0.3 million dollars in a full financial year. The Committee welcomes this reduction and would appreciate your advice on whether the new fees are based on full or partial cost recovery, or on some other basis.

More importantly, the Secretary is given a number of discretions which are commercially valuable. These include the power to extend the time for payment of an unpaid fee or late payment penalty, to allow an unpaid fee or late payment penalty to be paid by instalments (paragraph 24.1), to direct that inspection services must not be provided if fees or penalties are unpaid (paragraph 28.2) and to remit some or all of a fee or late payment penalty in special circumstances (paragraph 29.1).

Paragraphs 30 and 31 provide for reconsideration of decisions by the Secretary and for review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. This right of review, however, does not extend to reconsidered decisions made under paragraphs 24.1 or 29.1(a), which may be the most commercially valuable decisions. The Committee asks why these decisions have been excluded from AAT review, while a possibly less important decision is subject to review. The Committee suggests that it may be appropriate to amend the Orders to provide for AAT review of paragraphs 24.1 and 29.1(a).

Yours sincerely

Mal Colston

Chairman

9 June 1994

Mr David Creed

Secretary

Senate Standing Committee

Regulations and Ordinances

Parliament House

CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Mr Creed

I refer to your Chairman's letters of 6 May 1994 regarding recent amendments to the Meat Inspection (Fees) Orders and the Export Control (Fees) Orders.

The reductions in charges imposed under the orders are a consequence of the introduction of a revised two-tiered charging structure for meat inspection services provided by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS).

Under the revised charging structure direct inspection/field costs will be recovered through reduced "fee for service" charges imposed according to inspector usage.

Non-field costs, including the certification of meat for export, maintenance of overseas country listings, technical reviews, industry liaison, financial, accounting, auditing, training and personnel services, will be recovered through new registration charges.

The introduction of a two-tiered charging system is a key part of the reform process for AQIS announced in August 1993. Revenue from the meat inspection program is capped at the 1992/93 level of $80.6m in the current financial year, reducing to $70.5m by 1996/97.

The new fee structure is based on the principle of full cost recovery. However, due to a phasing in of the registration component of the charge, full cost recovery will not be achieved until 1995/96.

The Standing Committee has enquired why certain decisions are excluded from Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) review. If provision were made in the Export Inspection and Meat Charges Collection Regulations which would allow recourse to the AAT for review of such cases, there would be scope for exploitation by persons seeking only to delay payment by this means. Any person aggrieved by a decision under the Regulations could seek review of the decision under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977.

As AQIS operates on a full cost recovery basis, failure to recover its attributable costs would mean, ultimately, that these would need to be recovered from other clients or funded through the budget process.

Yours sincerely

(Bob Collins)