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Thursday, 21 March 1985
Page: 657

Ms JAKOBSEN(11.57) —The purpose of the Honey Levy Legislation Amendment Bill, as has already been stated, is to amend the Honey Levy Act (No. 1) 1962, the Honey Levy Act (No. 2) 1962 and the Honey Levy Collection Act 1962 to allow for the annual, rather than monthly, payment of honey levies by honey producers. I endorse the comments of previous speakers on the value and importance of the honey industry in export and domestic product terms, and note the support of the Opposition for this Bill. As a Bill which seeks to increase efficiency while reducing costs, it is certainly worthy of the support of all members of this Parliament. As an amateur apiarist I have a particular interest in the honey industry and in this Bill. It may not at first glance seem to be a Bill of great significance, but it will considerably reduce the paperwork burden and the costs of small honey producers as well as the associated administrative costs of government.

Under current arrangements both honey producers and honey dealers are required to submit a levy return and pay the levy due each month. However, of more than 300 returns submitted each month only 26 relate to dealers, the remainder pertaining to honey producers. Dealers' returns provide more than $280,000 in levies with the balance of collections, being approximately $22,000, paid by producers. It has been estimated on this basis that the average monthly payment by each producer is about only $6. Obviously, as was pointed out by my colleague, the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Snow), it is expensive to administer such small payments and this Bill will substantially reduce the administrative costs involved in honey levy collection.

From 1 January 1986 this Bill will permit producers to submit a single annual return, in lieu of monthly returns, with levy payments being due on 28 February of the following year. However, it is not anticipated that the delay in the collection of the producers' portion of the levy will create any problem for the Australian Honey Board or for the Honey Research Committee. This Bill will also allow the current monthly exemption limit of 50 kilograms to be expressed in annual terms for producers. An annual exemption is a fairer and more relevant method of assessment given the nature of honey production, which I will not go into because it has been so well canvassed already. I am sure that all producers will be grateful for the consideration which this Bill affords their position. As has already been said, the changes which this Bill will bring about in the honey levy collection process, have the support of both the Federal Council of Australian Apiarists Associations and the Australian Honey Board. I commend the Bill to honourable members as an indication of this Government's willingness to look at and implement ways of minimising costs to the industry wherever possible and appropriate.