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Friday, 18 August 1989
Page: 380


Senator ROBERT RAY (Minister for Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs)(9.11) —I move:

That these Bills be now read a second time.

I seek leave to incorporate my second reading speeches in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows-

EXOTIC ANIMAL DISEASE CONTROL BILL 1989

The purpose of this Bill is to establish an Exotic Disease Preparedness Consultative Council and to provide financial assistance for purposes related to the control and eradication of exotic animal diseases.

The Government's commitment to enhancing the exotic disease preparedness program arose from the Industry Development Review (IDR) which I initiated in late 1987 to review all industry assistance arrangements within my portfolio. The report of the IDR which was published as `Policies for Growth: A Government Policy Statement' formed part of the May 1988 Economic Statement.

That report identified two principal ways to increase our guard against exotic diseases. First, it recommended an increase in resources to raise our emergency preparedness to an even higher level of readiness to meet any disease outbreak. Secondly, the review saw a need to improve the range and timeliness of advice which the Government receives on exotic animal disease issues. Both of these major recommendations of the IDR are being addressed in this Bill.

Australia's major livestock based industries have a low-cost structure by world standards. The comparative economic advantage enjoyed by these industries basically arises from environmental and human resource endowment factors, and freedom from the serious pest and disease problems that afflict livestock in many foreign countries.

Any future outbreak of exotic disease potentially threatens to impose huge costs on the Australian economy. Our exports of livestock and livestock products are presently worth about $8 billion each year. Exotic disease outbreaks would place virtually all of these exports under varying degrees of risk ranging from total bans by importing countries to reduction in the prices which we could command for our products. Probably the strongest risk we face results from the requirement under United States food import laws of a mandatory ban on meat imports from any country for twelve months after any presence of foot-and-mouth disease. The impact on the meat industries and associated industries of such bans would be devastating.

In addition to restriction or closure of overseas markets, exotic diseases pose the risk of diminished livestock production through death, infertility or chronic ill health in animals. Also, rabies, which is a disease defined in the Bill, would pose a serious threat to human health if it were to become established in Australia.

In recognition of these risks the Commonwealth has for many years maintained vigilance on two fronts to ensure the relative freedom of Australian flocks and herds from major exotic disease outbreaks. First, it has responsibility for quarantine at our borders. Following the Lindsay Review on quarantine arrangements the Government is presently considering changes to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our quarantine effort.

The second part of our vigilance effort is to maintain adequate contingency plans in the event that the quarantine barrier is breached, as it inevitably will be from time to time.

Contingency planning for exotic disease outbreaks is a joint Commonwealth-State responsibility. For many years the Commonwealth and States have co-operated closely, particularly through the Australian Agricultural Council (which consists of Commonwealth and State/NT Agriculture Ministers) and its officials' committees to maintain a high level of preparedness. Expenses incurred in combating actual disease outbreaks, including compensation payments, are shared equally by the Commonwealth and the States through an existing cost sharing agreement.

Within that context, the Commonwealth is co-ordinating the preparation of the Australian Veterinary Emergency Plan (known as AUSVETPLAN) as an element within the national counter-disaster plan. the objectives of the exotic disease preparedness program are to provide a rapid eradication capability so as to minimise the time during which Australian livestock industries are subject to disease outbreaks and their associated costs and, perhaps more importantly, to prevent such incursions becoming endemic within Australia while eradication is considered to be reasonably feasible.

As well as co-ordinating the preparation of AUSVETPLAN the Commonwealth is assisting in training veterinary and other technical personnel and in trialling eradication procedures. The States and the Northern Territory also devote considerable resources each year to these activities. Also, the Commonwealth maintains a number of other programs to support exotic disease preparedness: the Australian Animal Health Laboratory at Geelong, the Screw Worm Fly facility in Papua New Guinea, contributions to the strategic reserve of foot-and-mouth disease vaccine in Britain and the feral animal control program. Commonwealth expenditure on these programs totalled $10.7 million in 1987-88.

A high level of preparedness has been maintained over many years, with past disease incursions such as the avian influenza outbreak in Victoria in 1985 being quickly eradicated. However, in view of the huge potential costs of a major disease outbreak, the Government has decided that more resources should be devoted to the preparedness program particularly for completion of AUSVETPLAN, training of technical personnel and active field testing of eradication procedures.

Exotic Animal Disease Legislation

In recognition of the public interest benefits from keeping our herds and flocks relatively free of major diseases, it is appropriate that the Commonwealth should contribute to the costs of expanding the exotic disease preparedness program.

However, as the livestock industries are the largest beneficiaries of the program, the Government considers that contributions should also be made by the major livestock industries towards additional funding, on an equal basis with the Commonwealth.

Accordingly, this Bill provides for the establishment of the Exotic Disease Preparedness Trust Account to receive annual industry contributions of $750,000, and for expenditure of industry contributions from the Account to be matched on a dollar for dollar basis by Commonwealth grant funds. The industries which will come within the new arrangements are wool, sheepmeat, beef, dairy, pigs, poultry, buffalo and goat industries. Consequential amendments to the Wool Marketing Act 1987, the Live-stock Slaughter Levy Act 1964, the Pig Slaughter Levy Act 1971, the Egg Industry Research (Hen Quota) Levy Act 1987, the Laying Chicken Levy Act 1988 the Meat Chicken Levy Act 1969, the Dairy Produce Levy (No. 1) Act 1986 and the Rural Industries Research Act 1985 are being introduced for collecting industry contributions to the Trust Account.

It is anticipated that levy rates will be set in proportion to the value of production in each of the industries involved. The annual contribution of $750,000 to be made by the livestock based industries is equivalent to less than 0.01 per cent of their gross value of production.

Industries which are not presently covered by Commonwealth research levy arrangements-equine, livestock breeding and deer industries-will not be subject to exotic disease preparedness levies. Because of the costs of establishing and administering new levies the Government does not propose to levy these industries for exotic disease preparedness purposes at this stage.

Turning now to consultative arrangements, the Government is seeking to have as wide a range of relevant advice available to it as is possible. Up to now, the main source of advice has been the high quality technical input from public sector veterinarians making up the Animal Health Committee, an officials' committee reporting to the Australian Agricultural Council.

The Government feels that advice it receives on exotic disease planning should also clarify the wider managerial, social and financial implications of disease eradication operations. Accordingly, the Exotic Animal Disease Preparedness Consultative Council will be established under the terms of the Bill to provide this additional range of advice. As well as pursuing its advisory role the Council will propose for the Minister's approval annual programs of expenditure in respect of the additional $1.5m funding which is to be provided for exotic disease preparedness.

It will be comprised of 8 members, headed by an independent chairperson. The Australian Agricultural Council and the Commonwealth Department of Primary Industries and Energy will each have a representative on the Council, and it is envisaged that these members will be professional officers with experience in exotic animal disease preparedness. Two members of the Council will be appointed on the nomination of the National Farmers' Federation to ensure that the views of the livestock industries are effectively represented. In addition, it is proposed to appoint three members with special qualifications to the Consultative Council. These members will collectively have expertise in disaster and emergency management; communications and public relations, agricultural marketing and the veterinary profession.

I commend the Bill to honourable senators.

DAIRY PRODUCE LEVY (No. 1) AMENDMENT BILL 1989

The purpose of this Bill, which is complementary to the Exotic Animal Disease Control Bill 1989, is to provide for the dairy industry's contribution to the Exotic Animal Disease Preparedness Trust Account. This will be achieved by amendment of the Dairy Produce Levy (No. 1) Act 1986 to provide a new levy component for exotic disease purposes.

Operative rates will be prescribed by regulation on the basis of recommendations from the members on the Exotic Animal Disease Preparedness Consultative Council who have been appointed on the nomination of the National Farmers' Federation.

It is expected that the dairy industry will contribute about 12 per cent of the total funds provided by industry for exotic disease purposes in the first year of operation of the new Consultative Council. This share may vary in later years depending, inter alia, on changes in gross value of production of the dairy industry relative to other livestock based industries.

I commend the Bill to honourable senators.

EGG INDUSTRY RESEARCH (HEN QUOTA) LEVY AMENDMENT BILL 1989

The purpose of this Bill, which is complementary to the Exotic Animal Disease Control Bill 1989, is to provide for the egg industry's contribution to the Exotic Animal Disease Preparedness Trust Account. This will be achieved by amendment of the Egg Industry (Hen Quota) Levy Act 1987 to provide a new levy component for exotic disease purposes.

Operative rates of exotic disease levy will be prescribed by regulation on the basis of recommendations from the members on the Exotic Animal Disease Preparedness Consultative Council who have been appointed on the nomination of the National Farmers' Federation.

It is expected that the egg industry will contribute about 2 per cent of the total funds provided by industry for exotic disease purposes in the first year of operation of the new Consultative Council. This share may vary in later years depending, inter alia, on changes in gross value of production of the egg industry relative to other livestock based industries.

I commend the Bill to honourable senators.

LAYING CHICKEN LEVY AMENDMENT BILL 1989

The purpose of this Bill, which is complementary to the Exotic Animal Disease Control Bill 1989, is to provide for the egg industry's contribution to the Exotic Animal Disease Preparedness Trust Account, in the event that the Egg Industry Research (Hen Quota) Levy Act 1987 was to become inoperative prior to 30 June 1995.

In this event, an exotic disease levy will be imposed under the Laying Chicken Levy Act 1988, and operating rates will be prescribed by regulation on the basis of recommendations from the members on the Exotic Animal Disease Preparedness Consultative Council who have been appointed on the nomination of the National Farmers' Federation.

I commend the Bill to honourable senators.

MEAT CHICKEN LEVY AMENDMENT BILL 1989

The purpose of this Bill, which is complementary to the Exotic Animal Disease Control Bill 1989, is to provide for the chicken meat industry's contribution to the Exotic Animal Disease Preparedness Trust Account. This will be achieved by amendment of the Meat Chicken Levy Act 1969 to provide a new levy component for exotic disease purposes.

Operative exotic disease levy rates will be prescribed by regulation on the basis of recommendations from the members on the Exotic Animal Disease Preparedness Consultative Council who have been appointed on the nomination of the National Farmers' Federation.

It is expected that the chicken meat industry will contribute about 6 per cent of the total funds provided by industry for exotic disease purposes in the first year of operation of the new Consultative Council. This share may vary in later years depending, inter alia, on changes in gross value of production of the chicken meat industry relative to other livestock based industries.

I commend the Bill to honourable senators.

LIVE-STOCK SLAUGHTER LEVY AMENDMENT BILL 1989

The purpose of this Bill, which is complementary to the Exotic Animal Disease Control Bill 1989, is to provide for the meat and livestock industry's contribution to the Exotic Animal Disease Preparedness Trust Account. This will be achieved by amendment of the Live-Stock Slaughter Levy Act 1964 to provide a new levy component for exotic disease purposes.

Separate exotic disease levy rates will be set for slaughterings of cattle, calves, bobby calves, buffalo, sheep, lambs and goats. Operative rates will be prescribed by regulation on the basis of recommendations from the members on the Exotic Animal Disease Preparedness Consultative Council who have been appointed on the nomination of the National Farmers' Federation.

It is expected that the meat and livestock industry will contribute about 26 per cent of the total funds provided by industry for exotic disease purposes in the first year of operation of the new Consultative Council. This share may vary in later years depending, inter alia, on changes in gross value of production of the meat and livestock industry relative to other livestock based industries.

I commend the Bill to honourable senators.

PIG SLAUGHTER LEVY

AMENDMENT BILL 1989

The purpose of this Bill, which is complementary to the Exotic Animal Disease Control Bill 1989, is to provide for the pig industry's contribution to the Exotic Animal Disease Preparedness Trust Account. This will be achieved by amendment of the Pig Slaughter Levy Act 1971 to provide a new levy component for exotic disease purposes.

Operative exotic disease levy rates will be prescribed by regulation on the basis of recommendations from the members on the Exotic Animal Disease Preparedness Consultative Council who have been appointed on the nomination of the National Farmers' Federation.

It is expected that the pig industry will contribute about 4 per cent of the total funds provided by industry for exotic disease purposes in the first year of operation of the new Consultative Council. This share may vary in later years depending, inter alia, on changes in gross value of production of the pig industry relative to other livestock based industries.

I commend the Bill to honourable senators.

Debate (on motion by Senator Reid) adjourned.