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Wednesday, 17 April 1985
Page: 1287

Mr KERIN (Minister for Primary Industry)(4.33) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The primary purpose of the Export Inspection Charge Bill is to consolidate the existing export inspection charging Acts for primary products other than meat, where charges are imposed on the basis of an export permit. The Bill does not encompass export inspection charges for inspection of livestock and wool as these are not readily amenable to consolidation. The Bill is a consolidation of the Dairy Products (Export Inspection Charge) Act 1982, the Dried Fruit (Export Inspection Charge) Act 1981, the Eggs (Export Inspection Charge) Act 1982, the Fish (Export Inspection Charge) Act 1981 and the Grain (Export Inspection Charge) Act 1979. Its provisions will provide a consistent basis for the imposition of charges. The Bill also includes provisions which will enable charges to be imposed for inspection of canned and processed fruit or vegetable products. Honourable members will recall that last February the Government announced its intention to impose such charges for the 1985-86 financial year.

Consolidation of the 10 existing charge and collection Acts is consistent with government policy to reduce the total volume of legislation which comes before the Parliament. This consolidation builds on proposals for the consolidation of research legislation. I believe that this trend is particularly desirable in relation to the quite large number of Acts that are administered by the Minister for Primary Industry, I think some 137. In relation to the imposition of charge on canned and processed fruit or vegetables, the provisions of the Bill apply in the same way as for other products. The Bill provides for the maximum charge that may be prescribed in relation to the products. With respect to fruit or vegetable juice the maximum charge that may be prescribed shall be 1c per litre or per kilogram, whichever would result in the lesser amount of charge becoming payable.

Over the past two years the procedures for inspecting non-meat products have been under review in close consultation with the industries concerned as well as staff. For a number of products covered by this Bill, inspection is progressively moving to a system whereby the intensity of product monitoring is varied according to the performance of individual firms in complying with export requirements and standards. Orders under the Export Control Act introducing the new procedures and covering dairy products, eggs and fish will be introduced shortly. Under this Bill each product can be divided into classes specified according to the type of packing, the form in which the commodity is exported, and the inspection regime applicable in its manufacture. After some experience with new inspection procedures this will allow charges to be varied according to the intensity of product monitoring undertaken by the inspection service. Such a system of charging should lead to a more cost effective use of inspection resources with the potential for an overall reduction in the cost of inspection to industry. The weight or volume of goods on which the charge is calculated does not include the weight of any covering in which the goods are packed. Where goods to which the Bill applies are packed in a can with another substance to which the Bill would not otherwise apply, the weight or volume of the other substance will be regarded as goods to which the Bill applies. These other substances are, of course, subject to inspection during manufacture.

Before closing this speech I should give the background to the reasons for charging for export inspection of fruit and vegetables and for the omission of honey inspection charges from the Bill. Honourable members will recall that inspection charging Bills for honey and canned and frozen fruit and vegetables were deferred in the Senate on 1 May 1984 until reports on export inspection arrangements for these commodities were received from the Interim Inspection Policy Council and the Department of Primary Industry. The Senate resolution also sought consideration of the Industries Assistance Commission report on honey. I received the IIPC and departmental reports in July last year and preparations were advanced to have them tabled in the Senate when Parliament was dissolved prior to the 1 December election. As far as the inspection of export honey is concerned, the IIPC and Department of Primary Industry reports recommended that the need for inspection should be kept under review. Honourable members will recall that I recently announced that the export inspection of honey ceased from 4 March except where inspection is a requirement of an importing country. It is worth noting that the IAC report on the honey industry has no real relevance to export inspection matters.

As far as canned and frozen fruit and vegetables export inspection is concerned, the IIPC and Department of Primary Industry recommended inspection regimes which reflect technological advances and would enable a reduced intensity of inspection. In this regard honourable members will be pleased to learn that a system of inspection involving less intensive monitoring of product, premises and processing operations will shortly begin field trialling. I seek leave to table both reports.

Leave granted.

Mr KERIN —I now turn to the financial impact of the proposed legislation. It is expected that the Bill will come into effect on 1 July 1985. The operative rates of charge in relation to products that are already subject to export inspection charging will not change. The operative rate of charge for canned and processed fruit or vegetable products is expected to be 0.5c per kilogram or per litre which would recover $330,000 in a full year. New rates of charge to apply from 1 October 1985 will be considered in the Budget context. I commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr N. A. Brown) adjourned.