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Friday, 18 September 1987
Page: 324


Mr BARRY JONES (Minister for Science and Small Business)(11.10) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purposes of this Bill and three related Bills-namely, the Horticultural Levy Collection Bill 1987, the Horticultural Export Charge Bill 1987 and the Horticultural Export Charge Collection Bill 1987-are to provide for the imposition and collection of levies on horticultural products produced and sold in Australia and for charges on exports of horticultural products. They provide the means of financing, in the longer term, the activities of the Australian Horticultural Corporation and, apart from Commonwealth matching moneys, the Horticultural Research and Development Corporation.

As the Australian Horticultural Corporation's role will include the servicing of the apple and pear growing industry, the current levies on its products will be imposed and collected under the new levy Bills; and the existing apple and pear levy legislation will be repealed. The operative rates of levy for apples and pears will be set by regulation, while the rates for other horticultural products will be included in regulations as respective horticultural industries decide to participate in the activities of either or both corporations and agree on levy arrangements to help finance marketing and research activities. Levy will be payable by the producer of a horticultural product which is covered by the appropriate regulations while the export charge is to be payable by the owner of the product at the time of export. Provision has been made in the levy and export charge Bills for determination of maximum rates of levy and charge. The maximum rates do, of course, vary from product to product.

In order to limit administrative costs or for policy reasons, certain exemptions from levy will be permitted under regulations; for example, these may be in situations where sales by individual growers are relatively small or where small volumes of horticultural products are retailed direct by growers at the orchard gate or, in relation to products used directly by the grower for juicing or processing purposes, if the relevant annual quantities do not exceed a maximum level as set down in regulations, possibly in marginal seats. There are already levies on apples and pears and the continuing application of these levies is expected to provide annual funds to the Australian Horticultural Corporation and the Horticultural Research and Development Corporation combined of around $1.3m. Total receipts of horticultural levies to fund the two corporations will rise as the number of industry sectors participating in the marketing and research activities increases.

The Commonwealth will match expenditure of the industry moneys-based on levies, export charges and eligible voluntary contributions, identified for the Research and Development Corporation-dollar for dollar, up to a limit of 0.5 per cent of the average annual gross value of production of groups of products, the groupings to be specified by regulation. The extent of the Commonwealth contribution to research will thus depend on the number of industries which agree to participate and the rates at which the individual industries are prepared to fund Corporation research activities. I commend the Bill to honourable members and I now present the explanatory memorandum to this and the associated Levy Collection Bill.

Debate (on motion by Mr Miles) adjourned.