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Wednesday, 31 August 1994
Page: 649

Senator SHERRY (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy) (12.16 p.m.) —I am not drafting the regulations in all their fine detail. Suffice to say that Senator O'Chee raises a legitimate point. There are a number of points of contact, including the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, where this issue can be considered. The government goes through an exhaustive process in developing its legislation and regulations, taking advice, obviously, from the industry. The government has an obligation to indicate to a particular industry—in this case, the nashi industry—that if the regulatory mechanism is not fair and equitable, it cannot be collected.

  We do not yet know whether the nashi industry will go ahead with this levy mechanism. It provides an opportunity to develop a levy based on presumed yield as an option. I certainly indicate to the nashi industry that in its consultations with its constituent members—obviously, the farmers—which is required before a levy can be collected, the committee of which Senator O'Chee is a member is available for people who may have a concern. I am sure the committee would very assiduously take into account the views of industry when considering these regulations. That is not unusual; I am aware of that.

  I give a commitment that we will ensure that the nashi industry is aware that the chamber, as well as the regulations and ordinances committee, may have a particular concern and that it needs to ensure that the detail required for a cost effective collection mechanism that is fair and equitable is established. If that is not the case, the committee as well as the Senate will have the capacity together to reject those regulations. I am sure they will have to bear that uppermost in their minds when they put together the mechanism for collection of a levy, should they decide on that course.

  That is something that we stress to every industry that is considering a levy mechanism. As I said, nurseries collect it on pots. There are some problems with that but they have said to us, `We don't have a better mechanism.' Some industries collect a levy on cartons going through the wholesaler's hands. That is not 100 per cent fail-safe, even though industries prefer that. These industries are made very well aware of the need to ensure maximum fairness and equity in establishing whatever levy mechanism they decide they want the government to collect on their behalf.