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Thursday, 21 February 2008
Page: 1089

Mr BURKE (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (9:45 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Horse Disease Response Levy Collection Bill 2008 provides for arrangements to collect and administer the horse disease response levy imposed under the proposed Horse Disease Response Levy Act 2008. The Constitution requires that provisions dealing with the collection and administration of a levy must be in legislation separate from that which imposes the levy itself.

This new legislation will require horse registration bodies to pay the Commonwealth the amounts they receive from horse owners in the form of horse disease levy payments.

Registration bodies will be allowed to refuse to register a horse where the owner has failed to provide the necessary funds to pay the levy, and they will be required to issue a receipt as evidence that the levy has been paid.

The legislation will also provide regulations to determine when a levy is due. Provision will be included for imposing penalties for unpaid levies, and also for the remission of any penalties resulting from late payments. The legislation will also allow the Commonwealth to recover levies that are due, and to make refunds.

It is proposed that powers for the collection of information and documents will include a strict liability offence provision for where a person fails or refuses to comply with a request for information. This is necessary to ensure that the levy collection requirements are adhered to.

There is also provision to allow an authorised person to release information relating to the amount of levies received by the Commonwealth to a horse industry body, the Australian Animal Health Council or other authorised persons. However, this information will not identify an individual or provide other contact details.

These arrangements help give effect to the Australian Horse Industry Council’s submission to the former government in late 2006. This submission was on behalf of three peak national representative industry bodies—the Australian Horse Industry Council, the Australian Harness Racing Council and the Australian Racing Board—supporting the introduction of a statutory levy on the initial registration of horses including with recognised breed societies and performance organisations.

The new bill will help the horse industry fund its share of the costs of responding to outbreaks of animal disease such as equine influenza. It recognises that most industry bodies do not have the reserves or the required capital backing to arrange for commercial loans to draw on in the event of such an emergency.

It will also help the horse industry have the confidence to become a formal signatory to the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA)—an important part of Australia’s emergency animal disease preparedness and response infrastructure—and join other major livestock industries as parties to it.

The proposed arrangements set out in this new legislation are similar to those applying to other industries that are party to the EADRA.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mrs Markus) adjourned.