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Wednesday, 31 August 1994
Page: 651

Senator SHERRY (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy) (12.25 p.m.) —I can give Senator Margetts an assurance, as I have already done, that there is maximum consultation. Western Australia is consulted in a variety of industries. I do not believe that the industry in Western Australia—whatever it may be—complains that it is not consulted. The problem is that it does not agree with the final decision. This is a national levy, and it is a national levy for a good reason.

  Constitutionally the federal government cannot collect a levy in just the eastern states; it has to be a national levy. The government cannot say, `We will collect a levy in four or five states but not in Western Australia or Queensland or Tasmania'. It is not constitutionally possible to do that. The government's policy is very clear. We have a national levy because there are national responsibilities. Unfortunately, at times there are regions of Australia that do not believe—I believe wrongly in a couple of instances that I have had drawn to my attention—that any good comes from national organisations. I do not accept that.

  Those regions are part of Australia; they are part of the Commonwealth. The levies apply nationally. It is not a simple majority; it requires a significant majority. What Senator Margetts is suggesting is that one grower can stop the levy going ahead. A thousand growers want a levy for research with dollar for dollar matching funding from the Commonwealth government. We cannot accept that just one grower can stop that levy going ahead. That would make it impossible to collect anything.

Senator Boswell —One in, all in.

Senator SHERRY —That sounds like the catchcry of the union movement—I am not sure Senator Boswell would like it used in that area. I cannot give Senator Margetts an assurance on the second question. It is not possible. I am aware of the particular problems because I have had numerous representations from a number of industries on this matter.