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Wednesday, 21 November 1973
Page: 3601

Dr PATTERSON (Dawson) (Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill is to impose a charge on honey exports to provide necessary additional finance for the operations of the Australian Honey Board. The Australian Honey Board was established under the Honey Industry Act 1962 for the general purposes of regulating the export of honey and engaging in promotional activities on the domestic and overseas markets. The Board's operations are presently financed by levies imposed on domestic sales of honey and on honey used in the production of other goods. Exports of honey which normally account for some 40 per cent of Australian production were exempted from levy when the legislation was introduced in 1962 because of the very depressed state of the export market at that time.

Since 1962 the Board's operational costs and requirements for promotional funds have risen along with the general cost increases that have occurred. Periodic increases in the rate of levy have been made to meet this situation, but there is an increasing reluctance on the part of the industry to increase the present levy on domestic honey sales. In March 1973 the Board felt it was appropriate in light of the prevailing bouyant market conditions that the export sector should contribute to financing the Board's operations. It recommended that a charge be imposed on honey exports at a maximum rate of1c per kg and that the operative rate should be a minimum of 0.3c per kg.

Following its recommendation the Board sought the endorsement of the main honey industry organisations which indicated their general support. The matter was subsequently discussed at the meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council in August last and there was general acceptance of the need for a charge on the export of honey. The Bill gives effect to the industry proposal. It provides for an initial operative rate of charge of 0.3c per kg which may be varied by regulation, on the recommendation of the Australian Honey Board, to any level within a maximum rate of lc per kg. The Government believes that the Honey Board must receive greater financial support if it is to function properly in the future and as there has been a very buoyant market over the last 2 years, in principle, the export trade should now make a contribution to financing the Board's operations. I commend the Bill.

Debate (on motion of Mr Ian Robinson) adjourned.

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