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Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Page: 4711


Mr LITTLEPROUD (MaranoaMinister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management and Deputy Leader of the National Party) (09:32): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

It gives me great pleasure to move the Excise Levies Legislation Amendment (Sheep and Lamb) Bill 2020.

The success and competitiveness of Australia's primary industries is underpinned in part by the agricultural levy system. Levies and charges are collected by the Australian government at the request of primary industries, and disbursed to levy recipient bodies, including the 15 research and development corporations, for investment. The levy system allows producers to collectively fund research and development, marketing, animal health, emergency biosecurity response and residue testing for the benefit of their industry. The Australian government also provides matched funding to research and development corporations for eligible expenditure on research and development, up to legislated limits.

Within this framework, levies are imposed and collected on sheep and lamb sale transactions, and at the point of processing and export. Approximately $50 million is raised in levy funds each year and invested for the benefit of this sector by its recipient bodies. These are Meat & Livestock Australia, the Australian Meat Processor Corporation, the Australian Livestock Export Corporation Ltd, Animal Health Australia and the National Residue Survey.

The sheep and lamb industry contributes $4.5 billion to the Australian economy each year with around 31,000 agricultural businesses involved in sheep and lamb production. Australia is the largest exporter of sheepmeat and the second largest exporter of lamb and mutton in the world. The collection and investment of levy funds through the agricultural levies framework supports the sector's ongoing success and growth.

In July 2019, the Australian government changed the definition of lamb for export purposes to reflect a new definition developed by the sheep and meat processing sectors, following extensive consultation. The new definition is designed to bring Australia's definition in line with other international competitors and provide a definitive signal for producers about when a sheep is no longer a lamb. Under the new definition, a lamb is an ovine animal that is under 12 months of age; or does not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear.

This bill aligns the definition of lamb for the purposes of imposing sheep and lamb levies that are duties of excise with the new definition. A related bill aligns the definition of lamb for the purposes of imposing sheep and lamb customs charges.

Updating the levies definition of lamb reflects the intent of the industry in establishing a new definition, and has the support of the Australian Meat Industry Council and Sheep Producers Australia. It will support compliance with the levies scheme, and improve the clarity of the levy system for the benefit of sheep and lamb producers, processors and exporters.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.