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Tuesday, 23 May 1972
Page: 1906

Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) - The reply by the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) suggests that my interpretation of the clause is correct. To me this is frightening. The Minister has explained what happens in the normal course of events. This seems to be a satisfactory set up. Why do we not put this in the Bill? The Bill departs from the normal course of events and puts up some other proposition. Why cannot the Bill state that there shall be a deduction from the milk sold and it shall be paid by the purchaser? Clause 6 (5.) makes payment of the levy the responsibility of the purchaser. The Minister agrees that at all times it is the responsibility of the producer. Then responsibility is placed on the purchaser to pay to the Commonwealth the amount that becomes due, or for the Commonwealth to recover from the producer. Of course, no amount becomes due.

Sub-clause (6.) says that the responsibility is on the purchaser to pay to the Commonwealth the amount that becomes payable by the producer. But it does not become payable by the producer until 28 days after he has sold his milk. If the producer has not paid the levy, the purchaser has the responsibility to pay it. I make this point on sub-clause (3). If a producer is struggling on a dairy farm and cannot afford to pay the levy, he will not be able to make arrangements with the purchaser to deduct the amount of the levy from moneys due to him. The effect of sub-cluse (3) is that he will have to provide in cash the amount that he owes to the Government before he can sell a pint of milk. Surely that will not permit such a producer to rehabilitate himself. He will be deprived of an income under subclause (3) because the purchaser will not purchase his milk. That is not the normal course of events. As the Minister said, the normal course is that an arrangement is made from the start. That arrangement may continue after this Bill becomes law, but if it does not, the Bill provides a liability at all times, firstly on the producer and then on the purchaser. Then there is a provision denying the purchase if the liability has not been met. I cannot envisage a purchaser paying for something that he has not received. Sub-clause (5.) provides: (3.) Where, at any time, the producer of whole milk or butter fat who has sold the whole milk or butter fat to another person pays to the other person an amount in respect of levy in respect of the whole milk or butter fat, as the case may be, the producer is discharged from liability to pay that levy to the same extent as if the payment had been made by him at that time to the Commonwealth, but the discharge does not affect any liability of the other person under sub-section (1.) of this section.

Therefore the producer gets out of his liability. Sub-clause (7.) provides: (7.) Where, under this section, levy is paid on behalf of the producer of whole milk or butter fat by, or an amount in respect of levy payable by the producer of whole milk or butter fat is recovered by the Commonwealth from, another person, the producer is, to the extent of the amount so paid or recovered, discharged from so much of his liability to the Commonweal* to pay that levy as has not previously been discharged by virtue of sub-section (5.) of this section.

While there is a responsibility on the purchaser and a discharge of liability by the producer under sub-clause (5.), sub-clause (6.) seems somewhat in contradiction. It seems that the discharge of the liability of the producer is only a discharge of liability in respect of the money that has been paid to the Commonwealth. If the producer has paid the whole of the levy to the purchaser, and the purchaser has paid half of the amount to the Commonwealth, under sub-clause (7.) is the producer still liable for the other half which he has also paid to the purchaser? If not, what is the meaning of sub-clause (7.)? The Minister has not replied to my query on why, under subclause (8.), it is within the discretion of the Minister, if any time the Minister is satisfied that there is hardship, to permit reduction of the levy payable. Perhaps the Minister will explain why a release cannot be given if in fact there is hardship.

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