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Thursday, 21 August 1980
Page: 617


Mr NIXON (Gippsland) (Minister for Primary Industry) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill is to provide the machinery necessary for the collection of the levy imposed by the Barley Research Levy Bill 1980, to set up a barley research trust account for the funding of a research scheme, and to establish both a National Barley Industry Research Council and State committees. This Bill, which should be read as one with the Barley Research Levy Bill 1 980, provides for the Act to become operative on the same date on which the Barley Research Levy Act 1980 comes into operation. It is the Government's established policy to foster research into the needs of our rural industries. The national barley scheme is a logical extension of those research programs already operating successfully for other industries.

Whilst there are significant quantities of barley produced in all mainland States, the Commonwealth at present contributes annually to barley research in only three States. The Commonwealth has contributed to the barley improvement plan in South Australia and Victoria since 1956 when these two States together produced the bulk of the national barley output. A separate program with financial support provided by the Commonwealth commenced in Western Australia in 1963. Since the Government confirmed its policy on matching grower levies in 1977, there have been requests for additional Commonwealth funds for barley research and an equitable distribution of those funds among the States. There is general agreement among Australian barley producers and all State governments that a need exists for increased research through an Australia-wide scheme. Since 1956 barley production has expanded rapidly in all States, and from 1972 a statutory marketing authority has been operating in every mainland State, exporting a substantial proportion of the production of each of those States. The proposed scheme will afford an equitable basis for the allocation of Commonwealth assistance to barley research and will be consistent with statutory research schemes for other rural industries.

The Bill provides for the establishment of an Australia-wide barley research scheme to which the Commonwealth will contribute. The levy collected on barley produced in a State will be used to finance research programs in that State, and the Commonwealth will contribute funds, not exceeding the total levy collections, for a national research program. There is also provision for contributions from sources other than producer levies. Expenditure of any such funds would be on an unmatched basis. In these respects the barley research scheme will be similar to the wheat research scheme which has operated since 1957. Under the cognate Barley Research Levy Bill, levy is payable when the grower delivers barley to another person. For practical reasons that receiver, under the present Bill, is liable to pay the levy and may deduct the amount from the purchase price or recover in another way from the grower any levy paid on his behalf.

The Bill establishes a barley research trust account into which will be paid the funds raised by way of the levy and the Commonwealth's contribution. Barley industry research committees, with a producer majority membership, are to be established in each mainland State. It will be a function of each committee to approve expenditure from that State's share of the account on research to be conducted in the State. In the case of Tasmania, where production of barley is relatively small, the amount of levy collected is expected to be correspondingly small and it is not considered necessary to establish a State research committee. Instead, the Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industry will approve expenditure of funds collected by levy in that State.

A Barley Industry Research Council will be established to make recommendations to the Minister for Primary Industry on a national research program funded by the Commonwealth's contribution. The Council will consist of 1 0 members, five to represent State departments responsible for agriculture in the mainland barley producing States, two to represent producers, and one each to represent the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australian universities and the Department of Primary Industry. The committees and Council will consult with each other to avoid duplication in the financing of research. Purposes for which moneys from the trust account may be expended broadly follow the precedent of other joint Commonwealthindustry schemes, and will be used for scientific, technical or economic research in connection with the barley industry, lt is intended that the research program under the national scheme will begin in the financial year 1981-82, funded by the levy on the coming harvest supplemented by the Commonwealth contribution.

Barley is the most important coarse grain produced in Australia. The gross value of barley production in 1979-80 was estimated at $446m. In that year, barley accounted for three-quarters of the value of Australia's coarse grain exports. Research undertaken through the new program Australia-wide will help this significant industry to meet the problems and challenges of the future. Those challenges include the development of new varieties, yield improvement, and the combating of pests and diseases. For the first time, the scheme will enable a concerted effort to be made for a national ordering of priorities in barley research. I commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr Uren) adjourned.







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