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National Residue Survey (Cattle Export) Levy Bill 1997

House:

House of Representatives

Portfolio:

Primary Industries and Energy

Commencement:

On the same day as Part 3 of the proposed Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997, that is, on Proclamation or nine months and one day after Royal Assent, whichever is first.

Purpose

To impose a levy for funding the National Residue Survey on cattle exported from Australia. The levy will be payable by the producer of the exported cattle.

Background

There are basically three main on-going Commonwealth programs which test foodstuffs for residues: the Australian Market Basket Survey (a biennial survey of pesticide and heavy metal residues in processed and unprocessed foods featuring in the average Australian's diet); the Imported Foods Inspection Program (this program inspects imported foods for microbiological or other contamination at the point of entry into the country); and the National Residue Survey (NRS).

NRS is a monitoring program for residues of chemical contaminants in agricultural and fisheries food commodities, animal feed and fibre products. The mission of the NRS is to:

monitor, assess and report on the levels of chemical residues in commodities produced by Australian agriculture and fisheries industries, to give domestic and international consumers confidence in the quality and safety of those products by:

providing an independent and authoritative audit of commodities' chemical residue status;

-. identifying chemical residue problems, their causes and possible solutions;

-. providing scientific advice on the management of chemical residue problems, and the prevention of contamination;

-. contributing to the development of industry and national chemical residue policy; and

thereby advancing the health of the general population.

Funds for the operations of NRS are provided from five sources, the principal being levies paid by participating industries. Levy receipts totalled $5,815,278 in 1995-96. Administration of such funds is through the National Residue Survey Administration Act 1992.

The National Residue Survey Administration Act 1992 provides for the administration of the NRS, including the operative rates of NRS levy or charge; the maximum rates at which NRS levy or charge may be prescribed; the products and activities on which liability to pay NRS levy or charge arise; and purposes for which money collected from NRS levy or charge may be spent.

The National Residue Survey (Cattle Export) Levy Act 1995 imposes a levy on cattle exported from Australia. The term 'cattle' is defined to mean bovine animals other than buffaloes. The National Residue Survey (Cattle Export) Levy Act 1995 is being repealed by item 1 of Schedule 4 of the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry (Repeals and Consequential Provisions) Bill 1997.

This Bill forms part of a package of 17 Bills restructuring the regulatory framework of the Australian meat and live-stock industry. Under existing levy and charge arrangements, funds raised primarily go towards funding the MIC, AMLC and MRC. Under the proposed arrangements the government intends that industry contributions will be sourced on a statutory and non-statutory basis. The collection of statutory levies is intended to be based on the current system but with changes providing for a transaction levy on sheep, lambs and goats, replacing the current livestock slaughter levy, and a separate transaction levy on grain fed cattle.

The rationale given by the Minister in the Second Reading Speech to the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Bill 1997 for the transaction levy approach is:

The transaction levy approach for sheep, lambs and goats was adopted at the request of a clear majority of industry whose submission met all of the requirements of the government's levy principles. A similar request was also submitted by the grain fed cattle industry sector for a separate cattle transaction levy. Again this submission met each of the Government's levy principles.

The existing levy and charge imposition Acts have been modified to provide for clear sectoral ownership.

1

In relation to non-statutory contributions, the government is setting the processor and exporter levies at zero. It should be noted that the Minister in the Second Reading Speech to the Bill issues a warning in respect of such contributions, that is:

Should the non-statutory contributions by processors and livestock exporters fail to meet agreed funding levels for joint industry functions, and as specifically agreed by these two sectors, the Government has their prior agreement to maintain levies at a required level to ensure there is adequate funding.

2

Under the proposed arrangements, the Government intends that decisions on levels of levies and charges be the responsibility of the peak industry councils.

In respect to this Bill, the Minister in the Second Reading Speech to the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Bill 1997 states:

A revised set of national residue survey bills has been included in this package to allow for continuation of the provision of producer linked payments on cattle, buffalo, sheep, lambs and goats.

3

The reader is also referred to the Digest for the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Bill 1997.

Main Provisions

Clause 5 imposes a levy on cattle exported from Australia if a charge is payable on cattle exported under the proposed Cattle (Producers) Export Charges Act 1997.

Clause 6 provides that the rate of levy on each head of cattle (other than a chargeable bobby calf) will be 32 cents or a prescribed amount up to a maximum of 32 cents. In respect to a bobby calf, the rate of levy per head will be 26 cents or a prescribed amount up to 35 cents.

The levy will be payable by the person who is liable to pay the charge under the proposed Cattle (Producers) Export Charges Act 1997 in respect of exported cattle, that is, the producer of the cattle ( clause 7).

Endnotes

1 Second Reading Speech, Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Bill 1997:10

2

Ibid: 11

3

Ibid: 15