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Wednesday, 4 December 2019
Page: 6914


Mr LITTLEPROUD (MaranoaMinister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management) (10:42): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

Agriculture, fisheries and forestry exports are an economic powerhouse for Australia and are expected to be worth around $51 billion in 2019-20.

We are one of the top 10 agricultural exporting countries in the world, exporting around two-thirds of our agricultural production each year.

Strengthening the competitiveness and productivity of Australia's agriculture sector is a key commitment of this government.

We want our industries to be able to capitalise on the opportunities that flow from growth in our region and globally, and grow Australian agriculture to $100 billion by 2030.

To help us achieve this, we need export legislation that is easier for our exporters and others along the agricultural production chains to understand.

We need legislation that supports the uptake of innovation, particularly new technologies.

And finally, we need legislation that provides options for our exporters to reduce the cost of compliance, such as streamlined processes for exporters to engage non-government people to undertake regulatory activities, where agreed upon by importing countries.

This bill and its supporting legislation does all of this and more.

It builds on reforms introduced into the 45th Parliament in December 2017 as part of the Export Control Bill 2017, which lapsed on the dissolution of the parliament.

The bill meets the needs of those who use the system and is the result of extensive consultation.

Since the Export Control Act 1982 commenced, the legislation governing agricultural exports has grown into a complex web of regulation.

The Export Control Bill 2019 streamlines and consolidates existing export certification legislation. It reduces complexity, duplication and ambiguity, and provides the confidence for existing and potential exporters to pursue lucrative export opportunities, particularly for those involved with new and emerging industries.

The rules that are being developed to support the bill will replace the existing orders. They will also be simpler and easier for exporters to understand and comply with.

The bill recognises alternative regulatory arrangements, and so provides opportunities for Australian exporters to innovate and take up technologies.

The bill allows the government to certify a greater range of agricultural goods for export. This demonstrates the importance of trade for government and our commitment to its growth, by responding to calls for certification of more agricultural goods.

And, of course, it is critical that our trading partners continue to have confidence in the safety of Australian produce, and continue to be confident that they are receiving what they purchased.

Market access is becoming increasingly complex and challenging as importing countries' requirements become more sophisticated and we compete with other countries for lucrative overseas markets.

The bill assists in providing a competitive edge for our exports.

It provides clearer regulation that supports innovation and the export of a broader range of goods, but, at the same time, it ensures that regulatory settings maintain the standards that our trading partners expect. The government has worked hard with importing countries to provide assurances that our level of regulatory oversight remains the same. It will ensure that we can protect the welfare of live animals exported from Australia, especially livestock.

We need to ensure Australia is a reliable source of clean and green agricultural products and ensure the welfare of live animal exports. The bill protects our valuable export markets by introducing a larger range of monitoring, investigation and enforcement powers, so that greater assurance can be given about compliance. It includes a clearer basis for the performance of verification activities across the supply chain.

The bill provides for increased criminal penalties and sanctions and will introduce new criminal offences and civil penalties for unacceptable exporter behaviour.

It will therefore act as a strong deterrent for that small minority whose conduct would otherwise undermine the integrity of the system and, in doing so, damage Australia's trading reputation.

The bill will provide a graduated set of punishments that can be better matched to offences, should exporters choose to disregard their legislative responsibilities.

The bill includes a range of new enforcement tools including injunctions, enforceable undertakings and infringement notices.

The bill protects the businesses of our exporters who are committed to doing the right thing and is yet another step in the right direction for Australian agriculture.

It demonstrates the government's commitment to increased access to high-value premium markets for Australia's agricultural sector.

For Australian farmers, reliable access to overseas markets means increased profitability and certainty for further investment in their properties and people.

For the Australian community, it means stronger regional communities and a more prosperous and productive Australia.

For the Australian economy, it means more jobs, more exports, and higher incomes in a competitive and profitable agricultural sector.

The export legislation reforms are just one of the initiatives that the government is progressing to modernise the systems that underpin our very valuable agricultural exports, which will be crucial to growing Australian agricultural exports to $100 billion by 2030.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.

(Quorum formed)