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Thursday, 5 December 2013
Page: 1848

Mr JOYCE (New EnglandMinister for Agriculture and Deputy Leader of The Nationals) (10:28): Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy Speaker, for letting me move towards the summing up. The Rural Research and Development Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 updates and refines the Australian Research and Development Corporation model. In comparing the policy changes, the government met and consulted with stakeholders around Australia and took into account many submissions. Extensive consultation continued in the process leading up to these legislative amendments.

The bill will allow statutory R&D corporations to carry out marketing activities on behalf of their industries, if a marketing levy is in place. R&D corporations which undertake marketing will be able to use their industry expertise to provide cost-effective targeted marketing activities in accordance with industry needs and priorities. No charges to levy rates or new levies are part of these amendments.

The amending legislation aims to encourage private sector investment in rural R&D by extending to all R&D corporations the arrangements for government-matching funding to voluntary contributions for eligible R&D, up to legislated caps.

Statutory funding agreements for statutory R&D corporations are proposed to drive performance improvements and increase transparency in the delivery of R&D services. Funding agreements have been a flexible mechanism for providing government guidance and oversight to industry-owned R&D corporations. These amendments will extend that mechanism to statutory R&D corporations.

Amendments in the bill change the process for selection of statutory R&D corporations' board directors to improve transparency and efficiency. The amendments promote due consideration of diversity in the selection process. These amendments aim to ensure higher quality boards for R&D corporations and reduce the time and delay associated with securing them.

The bill proposes to allow the collection and matching of individual fisheries industry levies subject to a cap based on the gross value of production of that individual fishery. This will allow specific fisheries to propose levies to invest in R&D for their industry and to undertake marketing in a similar way to other rural commodities. The burdensome requirement for ministerial approval of statutory R&D corporations' annual operating plans will be removed and other minor technical matters addressed.

The Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Amendment Bill 2013 removes the maximum levy rates for R&D and marketing levies on primary industry products. Similarly, the Primary Industries (Customs) Charges Amendment Bill 2013 removes the maximum charge rates for R&D and marketing changes that are duties of customs. The numerical maximum levy and charge rates will be removed and the rates will be limited to no more than the levy recommendation by an industry body following consultation with the levy and charge payers. The amendments will not change any levy or charge rates that are in operation at that moment, but they will streamline the process for changing rates in the future. Levies and charges may be increased following a request by industry but will not be allowed to be set above the rate recommended by industry. This will allow industry to manage their collective investments in research and marketing whilst also providing a safeguard for levy payers against arbitrary increases to rates. I commend the bills to the chamber.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.

Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.