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Wednesday, 31 August 1994
Page: 650

Senator SHERRY (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy) (12.21 p.m.) —I can give Senator Margetts a commitment that every possible sector that can be contacted in the horticultural industry is contacted and spoken to. We must have clear evidence of that before the government will proceed with the levy. The consultative processes are exhaustive.

  Representatives of a number of industries have come to me and expressed concern about the time and the resources it takes to go through the consultative process. It generally takes a number of years for an industry to get to the point where a levy is collected under these regulations. It takes at least two to three years. There may be some exceptions, but I am not aware of any. From the point of originally deciding to raise a levy various consultations occur over at least two to three years. Many industries express frustration at the level of time and concentration that is required.

  But there is a difference between consultation and 100 per cent agreement. Senator Margetts was not here when I concluded the second reading debate, but I said that it is difficult to get 100 per cent agreement from every grower in an industry. It is just not possible. There are times when, in a number of industries, growers do not want a levy collected.

  Government policy—and it is a bipartisan policy—requires a significant majority of the industry to agree, not 100 per cent. That means that on occasions some growers do not want a levy, but their will does not prevail. The government has stressed time and time again, and has been as assiduous as it can be in these circumstances, that everyone in the industry should be consulted to start with, and a significant majority of the industry is required to agree before the levy will be collected.