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Wednesday, 18 September 1996
Page: 3570


Senator HERRON (Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs)(11.28 a.m.) —I table a revised explanatory memorandum and move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

The purpose of this bill is to introduce amendments to the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Act 1992, the Agricultural and Chemicals Code Act 1994, the Fisheries Management Act 1991, the Farm Household Support Act 1992, the Imported Food Control Act 1992 and the Quarantine Act 1908.

The bill further repeals the following inoperative acts:

Apple and Pear Export Underwriting Act 1981

Beef Industry (Incentive Payments) Act 1977

Coal Production (War-time) Act Repeal Act 1948

Dairy Industry Stabilisation Act 1977

Dairy Industry Stabilisation Levy Act 1977

Drought Assistance (Primary Producers) Act 1982

Fishing Industry Act 1956

Fishing Industry Research Act 1969

Fishing Industry Research and Development Act 1987

International Sugar Agreement act 1978

Rural industries research act 1985

Wheat Tax Act 1957

Wheat Tax Act 1979

Wheat Tax (Permit) Act 1984

Wheat Tax (Permit) Collection Act 1984

The proposed amendments to the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Act 1992 will ensure that the national registration authority for agricultural and veterinary chemicals (NRA) is required to comply with the policy directions of the Agricultural and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand. This is in accordance with the principle of the Commonwealth, state, and territory governments being equal partners in setting the policy direction of the national registration scheme for agricultural and veterinary chemicals.

A number of the other proposed amendments are collectively concerned with the department of primary industries and energy's management of chemicals subject to import and export restrictions under international obligations such as the prior informed consent procedures. The obtaining of information about chemical products from the NRA is a factor in that management. The proposed amendments will not place any additional reporting burden on the chemical industry as the necessary information is already required to be provided to the NRA.

Provision is also proposed for the NRA to be able to impose a fee for the issuing of certificates of export. Those certificates relate to requests from the chemical industry or importing countries to establish the bona fides of a particular chemical product following evaluation of the product by the NRA. Appeal provisions to the administrative appeals tribunal will be available to aggrieved applicants in the event of the NRA's refusal to issue a certificate.

The proposed amendments to the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994 clarify the application of the compensation provisions under part 3 of the code. Those provisions apply when certain information is provided on request to the NRA as part of the review of existing agricultural and veterinary chemicals. The related transitional provisions have also been clarified.

It is also proposed to introduce provisions to streamline the issuing of national notices under the agvet codes. This will enable the NRA to issue one national notice rather than separate notices for each jurisdiction, and represents improved efficiency for the NRA.

The amendment to the Fisheries Management Act 1991 will provide that where there is an acquisition of property within the meaning of paragraph 31 of section 51 of the constitution, reasonable compensation or compensation as determined by the federal court, is payable.

The Farm Household Support Act 1992 is being amended to ensure that the drought relief payment is payable to eligible farmers only within the period specified on the drought exceptional circumstances certificate. This will ensure that drought relief payments are used by eligible farmers to meet their basic living expenses only during those periods of extreme drought.

The amendments to reinsert drought relief payment to section 43(1) are to correct previous consequential amendments which erroneously omitted drought relief payment from this section.

The Farm Household Support Act 1992 is also being amended to exempt from the drought relief payment income test any proceeds from the forced disposal of livestock.

The amendment will correct an anomaly in the existing legislation governing the payment of drought relief payment.

At present, for the purposes of the drought relief payment, if a farmer is forced to dispose of livestock due to extreme drought, the proceeds from the forced sale are treated as income for the period in which they are received.

This means the proceeds are assessed under the income test for the drought relief payment. The effect of this treatment is that the farmer may be excluded from assistance under the drought relief payment or have his or her entitlement reduced.

Following this amendment all proceeds from the forced disposal of livestock will be excluded from the income test for the purpose of the drought relief payment.

The purpose of the amendment to the Imported Food Control Act 1992 is to allow persons other than officers of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) to be appointed as authorised officers.

The amendment will allow quarantine officers of the various state and territory departments of agriculture to be involved in the inspection of food imported into Australia.

AQIS anticipates a more effective and efficient service to clients as a consequence of the amendment as it minimises, where possible, the duplication of inspection activities.

The purpose of the amendment of the Quarantine Act 1908 is to provide for a system which allows for the issue of penalty notices, which are better known as on-the-spot fines, to persons alleged to have breached Australia's Quarantine Act or regulations by failing to declare, or intentionally incorrectly declaring, goods of quarantine concern when entering australia. Initially the system will be operated at all Australia's international airports.

The system will allow the imposition of a penalty for relatively minor offences which, under existing arrangements, would not normally be able to be pursued through the courts.

The existence of the system will be widely advertised and is expected to increase compliance with Australia's quarantine requirements and thus minimise the risk to australia's agricultural industries.

I commend the bill to honourable Senators.

Debate (on motion by Senator Foreman) adjourned.