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Primary Industries and Energy Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1994



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House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Primary Industries and Energy

Commencement: The amendments to the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation Act 1980 will commence on the first day of the second month after this proposed Act receives the Royal Assent. The amendment to section 52 of the Farm Household Support Act 1992 will commence on 20 September 1994. The other amendments outlined in this Digest will commence on Royal Assent.

Purpose

This is an omnibus Bill which will amend a number of Acts administered in the Primary Industries and Energy portfolio. The major amendments will:

* require the Australian Wool Research and Promotion Organisation to take account of the need to further the sustainable use and sustainable management of natural resources when performing its functions;

* extend from 14 to 30 days, or a longer period if allowed by the Secretary to the Department of Social Security, the period an applicant for Farm Household Support has to obtain a certificate of inability to obtain finance; and

* make the option to convert Farm Household Support payments to a grant applicable in respect to one farm only.

Background

As there is no central theme to this Bill, a brief background to each major amendment is outlined below.

Main Provisions

Amendments to the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation Act 1980

(a) Background

The Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation (AWBC) is a statutory corporation which was established by the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation Act 1980

(the Principal Act). The AWBC's functions include:

* promoting and controlling the export of grape products from Australia;

* encouraging and promoting the consumption and sale of grape products both in Australia and overseas; and

* improving the production of grape products in Australia.

The AWBC's principal source of income is from a levy on fresh grapes, dried grapes and grape juice used in the manufacture of wine. The levy is imposed by the Wine Grapes Levy Act 1979. The Primary Industries Levies and Charge Collection Act 1991 provides for the collection of the levy. Levy receipts are estimated to total $2.265m in 1993-94 and $2.491m in 1994-95. 1

Total sales of Australian wine (domestic and exports) for 1993 were 444.4ML, 11.8% higher than for 1992. 2 Domestic wine sales, which accounted for 72% of all wine sales in 1993, rose by 3.3% in 1993, while export sales were up by 42%. 3 In 1993, Australian exports of wine totalled 124.8ML. 4 The value of 1993 exports was $357.1m, 36.5% up on 1992. 5 Table wines made up 92.6% of all exports, sparkling wine 4.4%, fortified wines 2.2%, and other wine 0.8%. 6

The amendments proposed by this Bill relate to sections 29U-29Z of the Principal Act. These sections, which form Part IVB of the Principal Act, concern the AWBC annual general meeting (AGM). The AWBC is required to convene an AGM of "eligible winemaker[s]". The purposes of an AGM include:

* the consideration of the most recent AWBC Annual Report; and

* to debate, and vote upon, any motion relating to a AWBC responsibility.

The term "eligible winemaker" is defined to mean a person on the "list of winemakers". The "list of winemakers" is a list, prepared annually by the Department of Primary Industries and Energy, of persons liable to pay the wine grapes levy. The wine grapes levy is payable by the producer of the wine grapes. The term "producer", for wine grapes levy purposes, is defined in the Primary Industries Levies and Charges Collection Act 1991 to mean:

* where a person is the grower and owner of the processing establishment at which the wine grapes are processed - that person;

* where the owner of the wine grapes immediately before delivery to a processing establishment is the owner of another processing establishment - the owner of the first mentioned establishment; or

* where neither of the above apply - the person who was the owner of the wine grapes immediately before delivery to a processing establishment.

Generally, the AGM must be convened within three months of the tabling in Parliament of the AWBC's Annual Report.

(b) Amendments

The amendments proposed by this Bill to Part IVB of the Principal Act replace, wherever they occur, the terms "eligible winemaker" and "list of winemakers" with the terms "eligible producer" and "list of producers". The proposed amendments do not alter the practical effect of any of the provisions of Part IVB.

The purpose given in the Explanatory Memorandum to this Bill for the proposed amendments is "to ensure that all producers who pay wine grapes levy are entitled to vote at the [AWBC] Annual General Meeting." The Explanatory Memorandum provides no express reason for the proposed amendments. However, it may be inferred, from the limited information provided in the Explanatory Memorandum and the effect of the proposed amendments, that the reason for the amendments is the inconsistency between the terms "producer" and "eligible winemaker", in the Wine Grapes Levy Act 1987 and the Principal Act. Given the inconsistency, it arguable that there is doubt as to who may attend and participate in an AGM.

Amendments to the Australian Wool Research and Promotion Organisation Act 1993

(a) Background

On 28 April 1993, the Minister for Primary Industries established the Wool Industry Review Committee (the Committee), to review the wool industry's structures and operational arrangements. The Committee's report, titled Wool - Structuring for Global Realities, was presented to the Minister on 4 August 1993. One of the key recommendations of the Committee was that the Australian Wool Corporation and Wool Research and Development Corporation be merged into one statutory authority called the Wool Research and Promotion Organisation. The recommendation was based on the perceived need for closer relations between wool promotion and research and development bodies and a desire to achieve greater efficiency and commercial benefits for the funds expended.

On 8 September 1993, the Government announced a package of measures to "restructure the Australian wool industry and secure its future as a supplier of premium, high quality, natural fibre in world markets." 7 The package was the Government's response to the Committee's report which included the establishment of the Wool Research and Promotion Organisation to replace the existing Australian Wool Corporation and Wool Research and Development Corporation.

The Australian Wool Research and Promotion Organisation (AWRPO) was established as a statutory corporation by Australian Wool Research and Promotion Organisation Act 1993 (the Principal Act). The functions of AWRPO include:

* promoting the use of wool and wool products in Australia and overseas;

* evaluating research and development requirements and providing funding for research and development; and

* facilitating the adoption and commercialisation of the results of research and development (section 6).

The Principal Act accords AWRPO the power to enter into research and development agreements, apply for patents and trade marks, buy and sell wool for use in technical development projects, and, with Ministerial approval, form a company, acquire and dispose of shares and share in profits (section 7).

AWRPO is required to prepare five year corporate plans and annual operational plans and, as far as is practicable, perform its functions in accordance with those plans. Corporate plans must:

* define AWRPO's principal objectives during the plan period;

* outline the strategies AWRPO proposes to pursue to achieve those objectives;

* specify performance indicators; and

* include AWRPO's equal employment opportunity program (section 10).

AWRPO comprises a Chairperson, Managing Director, a representative of the Commonwealth and six other members (subsection 28(1)). The six other members must have qualifications relevant to, or experience in, at least one of the following fields:

* wool production:

* wool processing;

* business management and finance;

* research and development and technology transfer; or

* product promotion (subsection 28(2)).

AWRPO is financed through proceeds raised by the Wool Tax Act (No. 1) 1964; Wool Tax Act (No. 2) 1964; Wool Tax (No. 3) 1964; Wool Tax Act (No. 4) 1964; and Wool Tax Act (No. 5) 1964.

(b) Amendments

The major amendments proposed by this Bill relate to sections 6, 10 and 28 of the Principal Act. The effect of these sections has been outlined above.

The amendment to section 6 of the Principal Act will require AWRPO to take account of the need to further the sustainable use and sustainable management of natural resources when performing its functions.

The amendment to section 10 of the Principal Act will require AWRPO, when preparing a corporate plan, to have regard to the need to further the sustainable use and sustainable management of natural resources.

The amendment to subsection 28(2) of the Principal Act will require the membership of AWRPO to include a person who has qualifications relevant to, or experience in, environmental and ecological matters.

The purpose given in the Explanatory Memorandum for the amendments to sections 6 and 10 of the Principal Act is to "ensure that [AWRPO], when performing its research and development functions, has regard to the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development and that these principles are reflected in [AWRPO's] corporate and related operational plan." No purpose is given for the amendment to subsection 28(2). The Explanatory Memorandum provides no reasons for the amendments to sections 6, 10 and 28.

Amendments to the Farm Household Support Act 1992

(a) Background

In a Media Release of 21 September 1992, the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy announced new rural adjustment measures. The objective of the proposed measures was to "promote a more productive and profitable farm sector and provide improved assistance to farm families suffering hardship." 8 The measures comprised two main elements, a new Rural Adjustment Scheme and a Farm Household Support Scheme (FHS). [The FHS was established by the Farm Household Support Act 1992 (the Principal Act).]

The objective of the FHS is to provide financial assistance to farmers who are unable to meet day-to-day living expenses and cannot get commercial loans, and to provide financial incentive for them to leave farming (section 6).

To qualify for FHS a person has to be:

* a farmer;

* between 16 and pension age;

* an Australian citizen;

* in Australia; and

* have a certificate of inability to obtain finance (section 7).

Section 4 of the Principal Act sets out the key features of a "certificate of inability to obtain finance". A certificate is important because it is a condition under section 7 for obtaining FHS. A certificate is provided by a finance company and states that a farmer has applied for a loan and that the institution does not propose to make him/her a loan because of his/her financial situation. A certificate ceases to have effect if a finance institution makes a loan available to the farmer. A certificate has effect:

* if it was issued within fourteen days of the farmer making a claim for FHS, for six months from that day; or

* in any other case, for six months from the day on which it was issued [subsection 4(2)].

Section 5 of the Principal Act defines the term "grant period". The grant period is the period during which FHS is payable to an eligible person. Generally, FHS will be payable for 9 months from the operative day (i.e. the day on which Rural Adjustment Scheme Part C assistance became or last became payable, or on which FHS became or last became payable). This period may be extended by Ministerial or Departmental determination up to a maximum of 2 years in certain circumstances. Departmental determinations are reviewable by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Subsection 5(4) provides that if the Secretary to the Department of Social Security is satisfied arrangements have begun, within nine months of the start of the grant period in relation to a person, for the sale of his/her farm, and it would not be possible to complete arrangements for the sale within that nine months period, he/she may determine a grant period of more than nine months but not more than two years from the operative day.

A person will not qualify for FHS, or FHS will not be payable in certain circumstances, including:

* if a person has been receiving FHS for two years, or periods that add up to two years (section 9);

* if the value of his/her assets exceeds their assets value limit (e.g. ranging from approximately $79 000 - $237 000 depending on whether a person is a member of a couple, is a home owner and whether their partner receives a social security benefit) [section 10]; and

* if a person has received, or may receive, income paid by a community or group funded under a Commonwealth employment program (section 13).

Section 50 of the Principal Act provides that when FHS ceases to be payable, the recipient is liable to repay the Commonwealth an amount equal to that paid to them, together with interest. Where a FHS recipient dies, the amount that would have been payable to the Commonwealth if the recipient had not died is to be repaid from the person's estate.

Section 52 of the Principal Act deals with circumstances where a loan will be converted into a grant. Where a recipient sells his/her farm within the grant period, the total amount of FHS paid to them will be converted into a grant and he/she is not liable for any repayment. In addition, where a recipient sells his/her farm within nine months of the start of the grant period, he/she is entitled to a grant equal to the maximum amount of job search allowance for the period from the sale of the farm to the end of the nine month period. In addition, where a recipient sells his/her farm after the end of the grant period but before FHS ceased to be payable, the total amount of FHS paid to them is converted into a grant, and they are not liable for any repayment.

The Minister's 21 September 1992 announcement received general support from rural industry lobby groups. For example, in a News Release of 22 September 1992, the President of the National Farmers Federation said "The new Farm Household Support arrangements provide greater incentive to leave early and send the correct signals to those farmers at the bottom end of the viability scale". The President of the Grains Council of Australia (GCA) also welcomed the Minister's announcement. The President of the GCA, in a News Release of 22 September 1992 said the "new rural adjustment measures will promote a more productive and profitable farm sector and provide improved assistance to farm families suffering hardship."

(b) Amendments

A new paragraph 4(2)(a) will be substituted into the Principal Act that extends from 14 to 30 days (or longer if allowed by the Secretary to the Department of Social Security) the period an applicant for FHS has to obtain a certificate of inability to obtain finance.

Proposed section 5A will allow a person dissatisfied with a decision of the Secretary to the Department of Social Security under subsection 5(4) to apply to the Secretary for a review of the decision. A person may apply for such a review even if an application has already been made to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of the decision. Where the Secretary reviews the decision, he/she may affirm, vary, or set it aside and substitute a new decision. Where this occurs, the Secretary must give the applicant a notice of his/her decision that includes:

* reasons for the decision;

* findings on material questions of facts;

* evidence or other material on which findings were based; and

* a statement that if the person is dissatisfied with the decision, they may apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of the decision.

The Secretary may also review a decision on his/her own initiative if satisfied there is reason to do so.

Proposed section 50A makes it an offence, punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of six months, for a person liable to repay FHS under section 50 to intentionally or recklessly fail to give, in the prescribed manner, the Secretary to the Department of Social Security full and correct particulars of certain events, including:

* changes of residence;

* sale of his/her farm; and

* changes in financial situation that affects his/her ability to repay FHS.

Particulars are required to be provided as soon as practicable after the event occurs.

As noted in the "Background" above, section 52 allows for FHS payments to be converted into a grant where a person sells his or her farm. The effect of proposed subsection 52(1B) is to make the option to convert FHS payments to a grant applicable in respect to one farm only.

The purpose given in the Explanatory Memorandum for the amendments proposed by this Bill to the Principal Act is to "implement a range of measures to improve the delivery of Farm Household Support to farmers experiencing financial difficulties, and to allow for the more efficient administration of Farm Household Support." As with the majority of amendments proposed by this Bill, no express reasons are given in the Explanatory Memorandum for the amendments to the Principal Act. However, it may be inferred from the limited information provided in the Explanatory Memorandum and the nature of some of the amendments that:

* due to factors outside of their control, farmers are having difficulty obtaining a certificate of inability to obtain finance within 14 days; and

* some people have been accessing the FHS payments to grant option more than once.

Amendments to the Fisheries Management Act 1991

(a) Background

The Australian fishing industry is regulated by a number of Commonwealth Acts, the major piece of legislation until 1991 being the Fisheries Act 1952. In 1991, after a review of Commonwealth fisheries management, the Fisheries Management Act 1991 (the Principal Act) was passed, which repealed almost all of the Fisheries Act 1952 and introduced a new regulatory regime covering plans of management for fisheries and statutory fishing rights. The review culminated in a policy statement released by the Government in December 1989 entitled New Directions for Commonwealth Fisheries Management in the 1990's. The policy statement identified three main objectives of fisheries management, namely:

* to ensure that fisheries resources are not over-exploited and that any exploitation is at a level which can be sustained while maintaining the surrounding environment;

* to enable commercial fishing operations to be as economically efficient as possible, using the most appropriate technology to achieve the greatest net returns; and

* to create conditions where fishermen are able to earn significant profits from which to make a payment to the community for the right to exploit a public resource for private gain, recognising that such a payment should not reduce the profitability of fishing operations to less than their current levels.

These objectives were to be achieved by the reforms, through a number of methods, including :

* the establishment of a new statutory authority - the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) to carry out the Commonwealth's fisheries management responsibilities. The functions of the AFMA were to include developing and implementing management plans for commercially exploited Commonwealth fisheries, setting appropriate catch limits or effort constraints on the basis of biological and economic advice to meet the statutory objectives and collecting monies in exchange for access to fisheries;

* access rights to develop fisheries being allocated on an ongoing basis to persons who are entitled to operate in those fisheries (i.e. licences specific to individual fisheries were to be the norm) and a formal register of those rights was to be established and persons given documentation showing the rights they hold; and

* exploratory and feasibility fishing being open to foreign operators, subject to the proviso that the Australian community benefit from their fishing, and once commercial exploitation is commenced, Australian operators be given preference over foreign operators.

Some of these objectives were met by the Principal Act, while others were implemented by companion legislation, principally the Fisheries Administration Act 1991, and the Fishing Industry Research and Development Act 1987.

The Commonwealth and States are responsible for managing fisheries within the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) in accordance with traditional jurisdictional arrangements (States to three nautical miles and Commonwealth from three to 200 nautical miles) or arrangements under the Offshore Constitutional Settlement (OCS), although it is the Commonwealth which levies a number of charges on certain fishing rights. The OCS provides for Commonwealth/State agreements, the aims of which include having individual fisheries managed under a single law, Commonwealth or State, and reducing the number of licences a person has to hold. The Ministerial Council on Forestry, Fisheries and Aquaculture, which is a joint State-Commonwealth Ministerial Council also co-ordinates fisheries policy between the Commonwealth and the States. The major fisheries for which the Commonwealth has exclusive management responsibility include the Northern Prawn Fishery, Southern Blue Fin Tuna Fishery, Torres Strait Rock Lobster Fishery, and the East Coast Tuna Longline Fishery. Fisheries for which the Commonwealth has responsibility are currently administered by the Australian Fisheries Service which is a part of the Department of Primary Industries and Energy. In addition, Part 5 of the Principal Act (sections 58-82) largely mirrors Part IVA of the former Fisheries Act 1952 which provides for the management of fisheries by joint authorities of the Commonwealth, States or Northern Territory.

Part 3 of the Principal Act (sections 16-43) deals with plans of management, statutory fishing rights and permits and licences. Section 21 defines a statutory fishing right as including a right to a specified quantity, or proportion, of fish in a managed fishery, or a right to use a boat in a managed fishery for purposes specified in a plan. A fishing right may only authorise fishing by or from an Australian boat and the AFMA is to establish a system of statutory fishing rights where a plan provides for it, and give each person granted a fishing right a certificate evidencing the right. A fishing right is subject to certain conditions, including that it will cease to have effect if the plan is revoked or cancelled.

Sections 32-34, 40, 91 and 94 of the Principal Act provide for the grant, by the AFMA, of fishing permits, scientific permits, foreign fishing licences, foreign master fishing licences, and fish receiver and port permits respectively. These statutory licences have certain rights attached to them. For example:

* A fishing permit allows a person, or a person acting on their behalf, the use of a specified Australian boat for commercial fishing in a specified area of the AFZ, or a specified fishery;

* A scientific permit allows a person, or a person acting on their behalf, the use of a specified boat (including a foreign boat) for scientific research purposes in a specified area of the AFZ or a specified fishery;

* A foreign fishing licence allows a person, or a person acting on their behalf, the use of a specified foreign boat for commercial fishing in a specified area of the AFZ or a specified fishery; and

* A port permit allows a person, or a person acting on that person's behalf, to bring a foreign fishing boat, in respect of which a foreign fishing licence is not in force, into an Australian port.

Permits and licences are subject to certain conditions, including such conditions as are specified in that particular permit or licence.

Levies are imposed on the different classes of fishing rights under the Fisheries Levy Act 1984, the Fishing Levy Act 1991, the Foreign Fishing Licences Levy Act 1991, and the Statutory Fishing Rights Charge Act 1991. Sections 109-113 of the Principal Act provide the machinery for the collection of the levy imposed by the Fishing Levy Act 1991, sections 114-118 provide the machinery for the collection of the levy imposed by the Foreign Fishing Licences Levy Act 1991 and sections 119-124 provide the machinery for the collection of the levy imposed by the Statutory Fishing Rights Charge Act 1991.

(b) Amendments

Subsection 32(1) of the Principal Act provides that the AFMA may, on application in the approved form, grant a fishing permit authorising the holder or a person

acting on their behalf, the use of a specified Australian boat in a specified area of the AFZ or a specified fishery.

Subsection 32(1) of the Principal Act will be omitted and new subsections 32(1)-32(1C) substituted. Proposed subsection 32(1) provides that the AFMA may, on application in the approved form, grant a fishing permit authorising the holder or a person acting on their behalf, subject to proposed subsection (1A)-(1C), the use of an Australian boat in a specified area of the AFZ or a specified fishery. Proposed subsection 32(1A) provides that subject to proposed subsection (1C), if an Australian boat is specified in a permit, that permit authorises the use of that boat, or another nominated boat. Proposed subsection 32(1B) provides that subject to proposed subsection (1C), if no Australian boat is specified in the permit, the permit authorises the use of such Australian boat (if any) as is from time to time nominated by the permit holder. Proposed 32(1C) provides that a permit does not authorise the use of an Australian boat unless it complies with any attaching conditions.

Section 43 of the Principal Act allows the AFMA to make temporary orders (up to a maximum of three months) with respect to:

* any matter directly or indirectly connected with fishing in a managed fishery, or in the AFZ;

* any matter that may be provided for by a plan of management; or

* any incidental matter.

Subsection 43(1) of the Principal Act provides that the purpose of section 43 is to enable quick action to be taken:

* to deal with emergencies [paragraph 43(1)(a)]; or

* to correct errors or anomalies in a plan of management [paragraph 43(1)(b)].

A new paragraph 43(1)(a) will be substituted into the Principal Act which provides that the purpose of section 43 is to enable quick action to be taken to deal with emergencies, or other circumstances where urgent action is required for purposes related to fishery management.

Section 84 of the Principal Act deals with the surveillance and enforcement powers of officers. A new paragraph 84(1)(f) will be inserted into the Principal Act requiring a fishing concession holder to give an officer help for the purposes of measuring equipment where the concession holders concession provides for the use of equipment of a particular type.

A new subsection 84(1) will be inserted into the Principal Act requiring an officer within seven days of taking action under subparagraph 84(1)(g)(i) or (ii) 9 to give written notice of the grounds for the action to the person believed by the officer:

* to have taken, processed, carried or landed the fish;

* the owner of the boat; or

* to have used, to be using or intending to use the net, trap or other equipment.

The purpose given in Explanatory Memorandum for the proposed amendments is to "allow fishing permit holders greater flexibility in nominating the boat to be used with that permit and to clarify the emergency powers available to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority in fisheries management as well as some powers and obligations of fisheries officers." As with the majority of other amendments proposed by this Bill, it is the exception rather that the rule for reasons to be given in the Explanatory Memorandum for the amendments. The only amendment outlined above for which an express reason is given is in relation to proposed paragraph 84(1)(f). The reason given for that amendment is that "in some circumstances it is physically impossible for an officer to inspect equipment without assistance."

Amendments to the National Residue Survey Administration Act 1992

(a) Background

There are three main on-going Commonwealth programs which test foodstuffs for residues: the Australian Market Basket Survey (a biennial survey of pesticide and heavy metal residues in processed and unprocessed foods featuring in the average Australian's diet); the Imported Foods Inspection Program (this program inspects imported foods for microbiological or other contamination at the point of entry into the country); and the National Residue Survey (NRS).

The NRS monitors residues of agricultural and veterinary chemicals in raw agricultural produce in order to meet national and international requirements. The NRS is administered by the Bureau of Resource Sciences which is situated within the Department of Primary Industries and Energy. Approximately 80% of NRS analyses involve meat samples. The remaining analyses are performed on grains, fruit and vegetables, dairy products, eggs and honey. Sampling is carried out by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS). The rural industry currently contributes approximately 60% (approximately $3.5 million) of the cost of the NRS through export inspection levies. The NRS currently costs approximately $6 million a year and reports on more than 50 000 samples. The Government announced in the 1992-93 Budget that it would legislate to enable full cost recovery for the NRS. The National Residue Survey Administration Act 1992 (the Principal Act) gave effect to that announcement.

The NRS relatively recently was scrutinised by the Senate Select Committee on Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals in Australia (the Committee). 10 The Committee concluded that the NRS is an effective means of monitoring and preventing excessive residues in agricultural produce. The recommendations of the Committee included:

* the NRS be expanded to include imported foods and a broader range of domestic agricultural products; and

* the Department of Primary Industries and Energy review the funding arrangements for an expanded NRS and, in consultation with the chemical industry, examine the feasibility of a monitoring levy on the chemical industry.

A number of bodies, in evidence to the Committee, criticised the NRS. For example, the National Farmers Federation stated that while "the industry was prepared to continue contributions to the NRS because it afforded protection against trade disputes and maintained the good reputation of the industry ... the agricultural industry was not prepared to accept wasteful and inefficient operation of programs and was entitled to a degree of participation in the management of the survey." The Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals Committee, Total Environment Centre expressed concern that the NRS did not sample sufficient horticultural products, particularly fruit and vegetables, and recommended that the survey be expanded in these areas.

(b) Amendments

Section 6 of the Principal Act established a trust account called the National Residue Survey Account (the Account). Section 7 provides for certain payments into the Account including:

* levy payments;

* penalties collected in relation to levy payments;

* gifts or contributions made to the Commonwealth for the purposes of the NRS;

* amounts appropriated by the Parliament for the NRS; and

* income from investment moneys in the Account.

The amendment to section 7 proposed by this Bill, proposed paragraph 7(da), provides for amounts paid to the Commonwealth for the purposes of the Account to be paid into the Account. The purpose given in the Explanatory Memorandum for this amendment is to "direct contributions from bodies, such as Research and Development Corporations, who wish the National Residue Survey to undertake specific tasks for those bodies."

Section 8 of the Principal Act sets out the purposes for which Account funds may be spent. Account funds may be spent:

* in accordance with an expenditure program approved by the Minister, for purposes relating to monitoring and reporting the level of contaminants in food products produced in Australia, or produced from animals or plants produced in Australia [paragraph 8(1)(a)];

* reimbursement of the Commonwealth for expenses incurred in the administration, collection and recovery of NRS Levy and penalties;

* reimbursement of the Commonwealth for expenses incurred in monitoring and reporting the level of contaminants in food products produced in Australia, or from animals or plants produced in Australia.

The term 'expenses' is defined to include expenses: incurred in relation to remuneration and allowances paid to staff; incurred in relation to surveys conducted for the purpose of monitoring the level of contaminants; and incurred in relation to the provision of accommodation or administrative support.

A new paragraph 8(1)(a) will be substituted into the Principal Act providing that Account funds may be spent on making payments, in accordance with an expenditure program approved by the Minister, for purposes relating to:

* monitoring and reporting of the level of contaminants in food products, animal feed, or fibre products, produced in Australia or from animal or plants produced in Australia;

* where the relevant industry body agrees, the testing, either randomly or in specific cases, of food products, animal feed or fibre products for the purpose of tracing sources, and identifying causes, of contaminants; and

* where the relevant industry body agrees, the prevention of contamination in food products, animal feed or fibre products.

The purpose given in Explanatory Memorandum for the amendments to the Principal Act is "to enable arrangements to enable funds collected from the cattle industry to be used for target testing programs and for education and extension programs aimed at reducing contamination on farm." No reasons are provided in the Explanatory Memorandum for the amendments.

Amendments to the Wheat Marketing Act 1989

(a) Background

Wheat production totalled 10 557kt (valued at $2 097m) in 1991-92, is estimated to total 16 184kt (valued at $2 871m), and is forecast to total 18 203kt (valued at $3 125m) in 1993-94. 11 Wheat exports totalled 8 153kt (valued at $1 528m) in 1991-92, are estimated to total 9 500kt (valued at $1 996m), and are forecast to total 12 520kt (valued at $2 258) in 1993-94. 12

A levy is imposed on wheat produced in Australia by the Wheat Industry Fund Levy Act 1989. The levy is payable by the producer. The Primary Industries Levy and Charge Collection Act 1991 provide for the collection of the levy. Proceeds raised by the levy are apportioned between the Australian Wheat Board, under the provisions of the Wheat Marketing Act 1989, and the Grains Research and Development Corporation, under the provisions of the Primary Industries and Energy Research and Development Act 1989.

The term "grain" is defined by section 3 of the Wheat Marketing Act 1989 (the Principal Act) to mean wheat, barley, triticale, maize, grain sorghum, soybeans, safflower seed, sunflower seed, linseed, oats, rye, rapeseed, rice, field peas, lupins, millet, canaryseed, grain legumes, pulses, and any product of the soil declared by the Minister, by regulation to be grain for the purposes of the Principal Act.

(b) Amendments

The effect of the amendment proposed by this Bill to the definition of "grain" will be to extend the definition to include pasture, horticultural, tree and other seeds declared by the regulations, where the term "grain" is used in relation to promotion, research and seed testing and certification value adding.

The effect of the amendments to subsections 15(6) and 15(7) of Principal Act is to remove the 65 years age limit restriction on the appointment of Australian Wheat Board members. No reason is given in the Explanatory Memorandum for this proposed amendment. This amendment, however, is consistent with paragraph 170DF(1)(f) of the Industrial Relations Act 1988. Paragraph 170DF(1)(f) provides that an employer must not terminate an employee's employment on account of the worker's:

race, colour, sex, sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin.

For a comprehensive analysis of paragraph 170DF(1)(f) of the Industrial Relations Act 1988 the reader is referred to the Supplementary Bills Digest for the Industrial Relations Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1994 [ Digest No. 101.1994].

Section 94 of the Principal Act provides for the making of regulation by the Governor-General. The effect of the amendment proposed by this Bill to section 94 will be to allow the Governor-General to prescribe penalties, not exceeding 10 penalty units (currently $1 000), for offences against the regulations. The reason given in the Explanatory Memorandum for this amendment is that "[it] is intended that such a penalty will be applied by proposed regulations which will make it mandatory (rather than voluntary as at present) for wheat levy payers and collectors to provide certain information concerning the levy payment."

Endnotes

1. The Commonwealth Public Account 1994-95, Budget Paper No. 2, p. 41.

2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Sales of Australian Wine and Brandy by Winemakers, Catalogue No. 8504.0, March 1994, p. 1.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Media Release, 8 September 1993.

8. Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Media Release, 21 September 1992.

9. Subparagraphs 84(1)(g)(i) and 84(1)(g)(ii) of the Fisheries Management Act 1991 allow an officer to seize, detain, remove or secure:

(a) any fish he/she has reasonable grounds for believing has been taken, processed, carried or landed in breach of the Act; or

(b) any boat, net, trap or other equipment he/she has reasonable grounds for believing has been used, is being used or is intended to be used in breach of the Act.

10. Report of the Senate Select Committee on Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals in Australia, July 1990.

11. Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Commodities, Vol. 1, No. 1, March 1994, pp. 134 and 137.

12. Ibid., pp. 141 and 144.

Ian Ireland (Ph. 06 2772438)

Bills Digest Service 6 July 1994

Parliamentary Research Service

This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

Commonwealth of Australia 1994.

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Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1994.