Save Search

Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 8 March 2001
Page: 22784


Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) (9:47 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows

The Pig Industry Bill 2000 provides for the Australian Pork Corporation (APC), and the Pig Research and Development Corporation (PRDC) to be wound up and for an industry owned company to undertake the industry marketing and promotion, and R&D functions.

In addition, the industry company will be responsible for the strategic planning and industry policy development functions previously the responsibility of the Pork Council of Australia, the industry's grower representative body.

These new arrangements will allow a more co-ordinated and commercial approach to the development of industry policy and delivery of services. Importantly it will ensure, for the first time that industry levy payers have direct influence and involvement in their industry body ensuring their levies are applied to best effect.

The progressive opening of the domestic market to pork imports in recent years has put pressure on the industry to become more internationally competitive and to develop niche export markets. The industry now sees that if it is to succeed in the face of stiff international competition, its industry structure must be as competitive as its producers to enable it to meet evolving market challenges.

This restructure proposal is an industry initiative and comes to the government following extensive consultation and with an unprecedented high level of industry support.

The industry has already established and incorporated its new industry services company; a company limited by guarantee and operating under Corporation's Law. The company is known as Australian Pork Limited (APL).

The new structure

This Pork Industry Bill 2000 enables the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to declare APL as the industry services body. The Minister may enter into a contract with the industry services body detailing the arrangements under which it will manage and administer industry levies collected by the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth will continue to match R&D funds provided by the pork industry up to 0.5 percent of the gross value of production, as applies to other rural industries. In 1999-2000 the Commonwealth's matching contribution for pork industry R&D was $3.6 million.

The integration of the policy development and strategic planning functions with the marketing and R&D services will provide the opportunity for full exploitation of synergies between these activities.

Under the arrangements, all levy payers will be eligible to become registered members of APL, and therefore will be able to have a direct input into the management and application of their statutory levies. Registered levy payers will be able to exert their influence through voting rights, appointment of board members, and input to the company's policy development and planning activities.

Accountability

The Bill provides for the transfer of assets and liabilities of the two statutory corporations to the industry owned company. The detail of those arrangements will be included in the contract which will impose certain obligations and accountability requirements on the industry services body. In addition, details of the new industry services body's accountability arrangements to its members and to the Commonwealth will be outlined in its company constitution.

While the model allows the industry to have a greater say in the management of its affairs, there will also be increased responsibilities. The distancing of government's direct involvement means the industry accepts responsibility for its activities and appreciates there is no automatic recourse to government assistance when the going gets tough. In short, more than ever before, the industry will be responsible for planning its own future, strategically seeking priority outcomes, and managing for risk.

The package contains a number of accountability arrangements which will be detailed in the company constitution and the contract with the Commonwealth. These are:

· comprehensive planning and reporting requirements with copies of plans and reports made available to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry;

· regular performance reviews to assess the company's efficiency and effectiveness in meeting planned priorities;

· for the Chair of the industry company to meet with the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry or his nominated delegate on a regular basis to discuss industry issues and government's priorities for R&D; and

· a requirement for a mix of producer and specialist skills based directors on the board of the company including a specialist in corporate governance.

If the company changes its constitution in a way considered unacceptable by government, becomes insolvent, or fails to comply with the legislation or contract, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has the ability to temporarily suspend or terminate the payment of statutory levies to the company or rescind his declaration of APL being the industry services body.

Transition and establishment

The net assets to be transferred to APL are valued at around $8 million and primarily comprise reserves of statutory levies held by the statutory authorities on behalf of levy payers for marketing and R&D programs.

In addition the bill provides for recognition of accrued entitlements of employees of the statutory authorities who are transferring to the industry services body. These entitlements relate to annual and long service leave, maternity leave, sick leave, continuity of service and other employment conditions.

Anticipated benefits

There are a number of strengths associated with this new industry structure. These are to:

· provide an appropriate vehicle to promote a through-chain, demand driven, commercial focus for the provision of industry services, which will facilitate the building of strong linkages from producer to consumer;

· improve the industry's competitiveness against imports;

· underpin the industry's achievements to date and in the latter stages of implementation of the Commonwealth `s $24 million industry restructure strategy, and specifically to promote international competitiveness and export development;

· remove duplication and ambiguity about responsibilities between the three industry organisations which cause confusion for industry, government and trading partners;

· enable the industry organisations to be more flexible and responsive to the changing operating environment and priorities of members; and

· establish a single unified, professional and balanced board with the opportunity and capability to strategically develop and implement industry service arrangements.

This Bill paves the way forward for the pork industry to look to the future with a more commercially driven, internationally focused and flexible approach. It will now have the capability to respond quickly, effectively, and efficiently to emerging industry challenges. Ultimately this will mean consumers' high expectations of quality Australian pork being consistently satisfied.

I commend the industry on how it has responded to recent challenges. The industry's unity in bringing this proposal to government is another example of a maturing industry looking to secure its future in the global market. It provides me with great pleasure to be working with the pork industry in implementing these arrangements and I am particularly impressed with the extensive levels of consultation both throughout the industry, with all stakeholders, and with government.

This bill and the framework that hangs from it creates a turning point for the management of industry affairs, and for the potential for industry growth and development. It will establish a solid foundation for the industry to continue to challenge and secure global opportunities in the pork market.

Debate (on motion by Senator O'Brien) adjourned.