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Deer Slaughter Levy Bill 1992

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House: House of Representatives Portfolio: Primary Industries and Energy

Purpose To impose a levy on the slaughter of deer intended for human consumption to support research into the industry.

Background Deer were introduced into Australia in the early nineteenth century from Europe, Asia and North America. Four species of deer have been developed as farm animals: the Red; Jan Rusa; Chital; and Fallow. Fallow deer comprise the great majority of farmed deer in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia whereas Red deer comprise the largest number farmed in Queensland. Overall, Fallow deer comprise approximately 65% of all farmed deer in Australia, followed by Red (18%), Rusa (11%) and Chital (5%). 1 The first large deer farm was established in 1973 in South Gippsland, Victoria. There are currently five state deer- breeder organisations and a national federation - the Deer Farmers Federation of Australia. In 1989- 90, there were are approximately 59 000 deer in Australia. 2

The two main by- products of the deer farming industry are meat (venison) and velvet antler. Venison for human consumption has to be processed at licensed abattoirs/slaughterhouses. Returns to the deer farmer vary from state to state depending on kill charges and method of purchase by the vendor. Most deer farmers are paid on a dressed carcass weight (DCW) basis at rates which varied in 1988 between $4.50 and $5.50 per kg DCW. 3

The second main by- product of the deer farming industry is velvet antler. Velvet antler is processed for use in Asian medicines. The male deer of species farmed in Australia have an annual cycle of growth and shedding of antlers, and it is during the early stages of antler growth each year that antlers are harvested and stripped of their velvet covering. The cutting of velvet antler is performed on each deer farm under veterinary supervision. Deer are either tranquillised, or where a crush is available, anaesthetised by local injection and the antlers removed. Returns to deer farmers for A grade fresh velvet antler fluctuate considerably with international demand and in 1988 were around $90- $120 per kg. 4

This Bill forms part of a package of five Bills imposing levies and charges on the Australian deer industry. In the Second Reading Speech to this Bill, the Minister states that the proposed levies and charges have been requested by the Deer Farmers' Federation of Australia to raise funds for a research and development program for the deer industry. Funds raised by the proposed levies and charges will be matched by the Commonwealth up to a maximum of 0.5% of the deer industry's gross value of production. It is estimated, in the Explanatory Memorandum to this Bill, that the Commonwealth's contribution to deer industry research and development will total $30 000 in 1992- 93 rising to $60 000 in 1995- 96.

Main Provisions This Bill will have effect from 1 July 1992 (clause 2).

The main object of this Bill will be to raise funds for research and development into the deer industry (clause 3).

A levy will be imposed on the slaughter at an abattoir of deer intended for human consumption by clause 6.

Clause 7 deals with the rate of levy. The amount of levy will be based on the weight of a deer carcase. The rate of levy will be 18 cents per kg, or another amount, up to 30 cents per kg, as fixed by regulation.

The levy will be payable by the person who owns the deer at the time slaughter takes place (clause 8).

References 1. J. Thonard, The Deer Industry - Present and Future, National Agricultural Outlook Conference January 1988. 2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Livestock and Livestock Products Australia 1989- 90, Catalogue No. 7221.0, p. 17. 3. J. Thonard, op. cit. 4. Ibid.

Bills Digest Service 26 February 1992 Parliamentary Research Service

For further information, if required, contact the Economics and Commerce Group on 06 2772460.

This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

Commonwealth of Australia 1992.

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Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1992.