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Wednesday, 20 March 1985
Page: 601


Mr KERIN (Minister for Primary Industry)(4.20) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

This Bill is complementary to the Australian Meat and Live-stock Research and Development Corporation Bill 1985 which I have just introduced. Its purpose is, firstly, to effect consequential amendments to the enabling Acts of three related instrumentalities. Secondly, the Bill seeks to repeal the existing meat research legislation and, thirdly, it proposes transitional provisions for the period before the new research and development arrangements become fully operational. In the case of two of the Acts that are being amended to accommodate the new research and development arrangements, opportunity is being taken to effect some other amendments of a minor nature.

I will now deal with the details and rationale of the proposed changes.

Amendments to Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation Act

The changes to the Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation Act 1977 which are required as a result of the establishment of the Australian Meat and Live-stock Research and Development Corporation concern the provisions dealing with the registers of persons entitled to attend the annual general meetings of the industry that are kept by the Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation. I pointed out in my second reading speech on the research and development Bill that the Research and Development Corporation will not maintain its own registers. As eligibility and voting rights for both AGMs are identical there is no point in the Research and Development Corporation duplicating the registers of the Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation. Formal provision is made for the Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation to give the Research and Development Corporation access to its registers. It is also provided that the Research and Development Corporation will bear half the costs of maintaining the registers.

The relevant provisions of the Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation Act are being widened to extend the applicability of the registers to AGMs convened by the Research and Development Corporation. A provision is to be inserted to protect the eligibility of persons whose applications for enrolment on the registers have been received by the closing date but could not be processed on or before that date.

The remainder of the proposed amendments to the Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation Act are intended to clarify some existing provisions and to correct minor oversights that occurred when effecting earlier amendments to the Act. Thus the functions of the Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation with respect to recommending changes in live-stock slaughter levies and export charges are being amended to confine its recommendations to levies and charges made for the purpose of its own funding. This action is necessary because the Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation is no longer responsible for recommendations for changing levies and charges raised for research purposes.

Amendments to the Act in 1984 were intended to remove a limitation on the Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation restricting it to trading only in meat and livestock that it owns. While this restriction was removed from section 9 which sets out the Corporation's trading powers, no corresponding change was made to paragraph 15 (1) (a), which authorises the use of the Corporation's trading powers to meet Australia's international commitments. The amendment in clause 7 will remedy this inadvertent omission.

Due to a similar oversight, section 26 of the Act still provides that a member of a consultative group shall be paid remuneration determined by the Remuneration Tribunal. This provision is no longer necessary now that the consultative groups have been abolished as a consequence of the establishment of the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Policy Council. Accordingly the Bill removes the reference to 'a member of a consultative group'. The amendment in clause 10 to section 30H of the Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation Act will clarify the necessity to set up an interim corporation in a situation where an annual general meeting passes a vote of no confidence in the Corporation and where the replacement of members of the Corporation with new appointees would take longer than a month.

Amendments to Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Policy Council Act

One change to the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Policy Council Act 1984 is required as a result of the research and development legislation. This is to provide for the Chairperson of the Research and Development Corporation to become a member of the Policy Council in lieu of the Chairman of the Australian Meat Research Committee.

Amendments to Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Selection Committee Act

The functions of the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Selection Committee are amended by the Bill to provide that the Committee will select persons to be nominated for appointment to the Research and Development Corporation as well as the Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation. The Research and Development Corporation is to comprise 11 members. The Chairperson and the Government member will be selected and appointed by the Minister. The Executive Director will be selected and appointed by the Corporation. The remaining eight are to be selected by the Industry Selection Committee. The persons selected will be required to possess qualifications relevant to or experience in the fields of activity specified in clause 28 of the Bill. Responsibility for the costs incurred in selecting persons for appointment to the Research and Development Corporation will lie with that body. The Bill provides that the Industry Selection Committee will determine the amount of the costs involved and advise the Research and Development Corporation.

Repeal and Transitional Provisions

The transitional provisions in the Bill are designed to effect a smooth changeover of the responsibilities for meat and livestock research from the Australian Meat Research Committee to the Research and Development Corporation on the day that the new Corporation is proclaimed to come into existence. Provision is made for moneys standing to the credit of the Meat Research Trust Account or held by the Commonwealth for payment into that account on that day to be paid to the Research and Development Corporation. Arrangements or agreements entered into by the Australian Meat Research Committee will continue in force with the Research and Development Corporation assuming the Committee's responsibilities. Any debts of the Meat Research Committee on that day will be taken over by the Research and Development Corporation. However the responsibility for preparing the final report on the operations of the Australian Meat Research Committee will remain with that body.

There are no additional costs for the Commonwealth in the Bill. The transfer of cash balances from the Meat Research Trust Account to the AMLRDC will increase Budget outlays in 1985-86 but will not add to the public sector borrowings. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Hunt) adjourned.