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Thursday, 25 June 2009
Page: 4294

Senator MILNE (11:42 AM) —by leave—I just wanted to say in relation to this matter of the AQIS fees and charges that the Greens had real concerns, as did many people in this chamber right across the parties, about the impact that a 40 per cent increase in fees would have on the rural sector, particularly at this time when many of those export industries are already struggling because of the drought and various other matters. But the concern was that disallowing all of these regulations would impact across all sectors. That of course means that the meat, grains, dairy, fish and live export sectors would all be affected as well as horticulture. I had representations from all those sectors saying that they had signed an agreement with the government to proceed with the reform agenda and that if we disallowed all of the regulations, it would affect everybody. So I worked with the minister to reach an arrangement whereby half of horticulture’s $2½ million share of the $40 million reform package would be spent on rebates over 12 months to take into account the seasonal nature and also an agreement to have a work plan in place with timetables by 1 August. I have postponed until 20 August, so that there is the opportunity to revisit it, but I do not expect that will have to be the case if the minister delivers on this agreement. I seek leave in this context to table a letter of the commitments I have from the minister. I have circulated this to the whips.

Leave granted.