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Thursday, 26 November 2015
Page: 13876


Mr HASTIE (Canning) (13:13): I rise today in support of the Export Control Amendment (Quotas) Bill 2015. This bill seeks to replaces multiple acts that govern tariff rate export quotas with one act that covers all commodities. This will decrease red tape and clarify a complicated legislative scheme, making it clearer and readily understood.

The current legislative schemes for quotas are specific to meat and dairy products and are not sufficient to address the range of quotas arising under recent free trade agreements. For example, the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement introduced quotas for honey and juices. A comprehensive legislative quota scheme under the Export Control Act 1982 would enable a more secure and flexible legal framework for implementation of these and any future quotas negotiated in pursuit of export opportunities under the agricultural competitiveness white paper.

Where export tariff rate quotas are established by trade agreements Australia seeks to manage the quotas in order to offer exporters the maximum concessions possible on agricultural products. For example, eight new quotas introduced under the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement saved exporters approximately $3 million in tariffs in the period January to May 2015.

Based on consultations internally and externally, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has determined that a comprehensive quota regime administered under one act is preferable and more efficient than the existing commodity-specific regimes which are currently administered under four different acts. The Export Control Act 1982 is the preferred vehicle to enable all of the department's export certification arrangements to be carried out under a common set of powers. This would be achieved by abolishing one act in its entirety and parts or divisions of two other acts and consolidating provisions currently sitting within the Export Control Act. The bill consolidates four acts that govern tariff rate export quotas into one act that covers all commodities.

The bill enables the secretary to make orders providing for or in relation to the establishment and administration of a system or systems of tariff rate quotas for the export of goods. Orders may be made to cover goods currently subject to quota regulation but could cover any other goods that quotas may apply to in the future. The bill provides the secretary with the ability to make directions in relation to matters covered by an order. Directions provide flexibility to deal with complex situations relating to an individual exporter in a fair and transparent manner. The amendments enable the directions to override an order. This is consistent with section 17(4) of the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997, which provides that, if a direction given by the secretary is inconsistent with an order, the direction prevails.

A comprehensive general quota legislative regime will enable a more secure and flexible legal framework for the implementation of existing and any future quotas negotiated in pursuit of export opportunities under the Agricultural competitiveness white paper and free trade agreement negotiations. Exporters will gain access to quota tariff rate concessions provided under free trade agreements through contemporary, flexible and efficient regulation. The bill complements the government's strategic approach for capturing premium markets outlined in the Agricultural competitiveness white paper and builds on the gains from recent free trade agreements with our major trading partners.

This bill will facilitate red tape reduction, bringing regulation of quotas under the same legislation as other export controls of the same commodities and offer opportunities for synergies in deployment of resources. It will also enable a consistent approach to the appointment of third parties as authorised officers, where they are permitted by importing countries.

Since 1974, Mundijong, in the electorate of Canning, has been home to Mundella Foods, Western Australia's premier dairy company. Since 1974, when local farmers Peter and Anne Hector founded Mundella, the local farmers have supplied the milk to Mundella that has resulted in numerous awards for their high-quality products. A company that was founded to capitalise on a surplus of milk has now grown into a thriving enterprise. In the early days the company focused on condensed milk but, over time, expanded into cheese and yoghurt. The expansion of the dairy range by Mundella increased the demand from the local dairy farmers and created jobs in the local community. It is success stories like Mundella's—of a small business growing from hard work and determination—that strengthen the local community of Canning. Mundella's operational ethos is to become the leading producer of premium yoghurts in Australia without compromising the quality of the Mundella brand.

The Export Control Amendment (Quotas) Bill 2015 will assist companies like Mundella in expanding their operation beyond the domestic market with clearer and less encumbering regulations. With countries such as China having an ever-increasing demand for dairy products, companies like Mundella are well placed to help bridge that gap. For what started as a small Western Australian farming operation, clear and unambiguous regulations on export tariffs are critical to allowing easy entry into the export market.

Also in the electorate of Canning is Margaret River Premium Meat Exports, a vertically integrated Wagyu beef business run by Pinjarra local Mr John McLeod. Producing premium-branded Margaret River Wagyu beef, Mundella also export to many countries. Commencing business at Cowaramup in 2003, the company now owns the largest herd of purebred Wagyu in Western Australia and employs a network of farmers throughout the South West who manage the breeding, backgrounding and feeding of the Wagyu cattle. Reducing these tariffs means better business for Canning.

The reduction of red tape to allow greater business efficiency and operating protocols has always been a key focus of the Liberal team. The Export Control Amendment (Quotas) Bill 2015 not only eases red tape burdens; it creates a more workable legislative framework for Canning. For this reason I commend this bill to the House.