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Wednesday, 9 March 2005
Page: 95


Senator VANSTONE (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs) (4:07 PM) —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—

AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY CHEMICALS LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (LEVY AND FEES) BILL 2005

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is a statutory authority, which has the critically important role of ensuring that agricultural and veterinary chemicals (agvet chemicals) out in the community are safe—both for humans, animals and for the environment. It achieves this through scientifically evaluating and regulating agvet chemicals before they can be legally sold or used. As part of these responsibilities, the APVMA regulates agvet chemicals to the point of wholesale sale. The costs of the APVMA are fully recovered through the collection of application fees and a levy on leviable disposals of registered chemical products.

A National Competition Policy Review of Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Legislation, completed in January 1999, made several recommendations about the APVMA’s cost recovery arrangements. These were intended to remove potential hurdles to smaller businesses seeking registration and discrimination between firms in respect of their contribution.

As a result of these recommendations the APVMA cost recovery arrangements were reviewed. The Government consulted extensively with industry and issued a draft Cost Recovery Impact Statement (CRIS) in November 2004. Analysis of the submissions received from stakeholders did not result in any significant changes to the cost recovery model outlined in the draft CRIS.

The amendments contained in this bill amend the following Acts to implement the new cost recovery arrangements as set out in the draft CRIS:

  • Agricultural and Veterinary Chemical Products (Collection of Levy) Act 1994;
  • Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994; and
  • Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Act 1992.

Key aspects of the bill include several changes to the levy such as:

  • Changing from a calendar year to a financial year basis, consistent with the period of registration of chemical products;
  • Providing for a tiered rate of levy to be set based on the volume of leviable disposals of a particular chemical product;
  • Removing the existing cap of $25,000 placed on the amount of levy that may be paid in respect of a particular chemical product in a particular year; and,
  • Removing the existing thresholds below which no amount of levy is payable in respect of a particular chemical product, currently $100,000.

The bill also creates a new penalty for understating the amount of leviable disposals and amends several provisions in the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code to better reflect the modular system of fees and assessments.

In addition, the bill will repeal a suite of interim levy legislation that is now spent, namely:

  • Agricultural and Veterinary Chemical Products (Collection of Interim Levy) Act 1994;
  • Agricultural and Veterinary Chemical Products Interim Levy Imposition (Customs) Act 1994;
  • Agricultural and Veterinary Chemical Products Interim Levy Imposition (Excise) Act 1994; and
  • Agricultural and Veterinary Chemical Products Interim Levy Imposition (General) Act 1994.

The amendments contained in this bill bring the cost recovery arrangements for the APVMA into closer consistency with the Government’s Cost Recovery Guidelines. They will also ensure that the APVMA continues to provide the valuable service of protecting Australia’s human, animal and environmental health, whilst continuing farmers’ access to a wide range of important chemical inputs.

Debate (on motion by Senator Vanstone) adjourned.

Ordered that the resumption of the debate be an order of the day for a later hour.