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Tuesday, 19 August 1969


Senator MCKELLAR (New South Wales) (Minister for Repatriation) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

This Bill has two purposes. The first is to provide for an increase in the number of meat producer representatives on the Australian Meat Board from five to six. The second is to empower the Australian Meat Board to issue, cancel or suspend export licences, and to provide the applicant or licensee with a right of appeal to the Minister against a decision by the Board. The increase in the number of producer representatives on the Board is proposed so as to facilitate a more adequate representation of the major livestock producing regions of Australia and of the widely differing conditions under which cattle, sheep and lambs are produced. In particular, an additional producer representative should assure representation for producers in the southern States. Since the Board was reconstituted in 1964 there has been no meat producer representative from Victoria, South Australia or Tasmania despite the fact that these States account for a very considerable proportion of Australian meat production and exports.

When the present legislation was introduced the Government made it clear that the principal criterion for the selection of Board members should be their ability and experience. This will continue to be the case. It is envisaged however, that an additional producer position on the Board will make it possible for the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee, when making its nominations to the Minister, to ensure that adequate geographic representation is also achieved. The proposal to make the Meat Board responsible for the issue, cancellation or suspension of export licences and to provide a right of appeal against the Board's decision represents a significant change from current procedures. Currently applications for export licences are made to the Board which, after obtaining such further information as it considers necessary, makes its recommendation to the Minister. The decision to grant or refuse a licence however rests solely with the Minister or his delegate and there is no provision for appeal against that decision. Similarly the Minister may cancel an export licence if, on a report from the Board, be is satisfied that the licensee has contravened a requirement prescribed by regulation or a condition to which the licence is subject. In both instances the Minister must in practice rely heavily on the report and recommendation of the Board but must take the sole responsibility for the decision and in neither case is there any provision for appeal.

The proposed changes would require the Board to take responsibility for its decisions and would also ensure that any applicant who is refused a licence, or any licensee who has his licence suspended or cancelled, has full opportunity to present his case to the Minister for review. The Bill also provides that the Minister may, if he considers it desirable, appoint independent persons to examine any appeal and to make a recommendation to him. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.

Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.







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