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Primary Industries Legislation Amendment Bill 1991



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House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Primary Industries and Energy

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Purpose

This is an omnibus Bill that will make a number of largely non-contentious amendments. The major amendments relate to Commonwealth funding of horticultural industry research and development; equal employment opportunity requirements of the Australian Dairy Corporation; and the functions and powers of the Horticultural Research and Development Corporation.

Background

As there is no central theme to the Bill, the background to each amendment will be explained below.

Main Provisions

Clause 3 will amend 15 Acts as set out in Schedule 1 of the Bill.

Amendments to the Australian Meat and Live-stock Research and Development Corporation Act 1985

The Australian Meat and Live-stock Research and Development Corporation (AMLRDC) was established on 1 July 1985. The main responsibility of the AMLRDC is to identify and fund, on behalf of the meat and livestock industry, research and development in the fields of production, processing storage, transport and marketing. AMLRDC operating revenue totalled $31.368 million in 1989-90 and operating expenses $30.917 million. The bulk of the AMLRDC's funds are disbursed by way of annual grants to approved research and development projects. The AMLRDC is funded from levies collected under the Live-stock Slaughter Levy/Collection Acts 1964 and the Live-stock Export Charge/Collection Acts 1977, which provide for levies on the slaughter and charges on the export of livestock to be collected and payed to the AMLRDC. Under the Act, the Commonwealth provides funds equivalent to levy receipts or 50% of total AMLRDC expenditure, which-ever is the lesser.

The principal effect of the amendments proposed by this Bill to the AMLRDC, which will have effect from 1 July 1991 (clause 2), will be:

*to change the name of the AMLRDC to the Meat Research Corporation; and

*to limit the Commonwealth's matching contribution to research and development to 0.5% of the gross value of production of the meat and livestock industry. (Note:This is the normal limit for rural research organisations)

Amendments to the Dairy Produce Act 1986

The Australian Dairy Corporation (ADC) was established in 1986. The objective of the ADC is to enhance the profitable production and marketing of Australian dairy produce. The functions of the ADC include to promote the consumption of Australian dairy produce, both in Australia and foreign countries; to control the export from Australia of dairy produce; and to provide assistance by way of loans to manufacturers of dairy produce in Australia. Operating income of the ADC and its subsidiary in 1989-90 totalled $280.047 million and operating expenditure $269.858 million.

The Equal Employment Opportunity (Commonwealth Authorities) Act 1987 (the EEOCA Act) widened the requirement for equal employment opportunities (EEO) programs to those Commonwealth authorities, including statutory authorities, not covered by the Affirmative Action (Equal Employment Opportunity for Women) Act 1986 or the Public Service Act 1922. The EEOCA Act imposes certain minimum requirements for an EEO program including informing employees of the program and results of monitoring and evaluation; appointing an officer of sufficient authority and status to be responsible for development and implementation of the program; consulting relevant trade unions and employees; identifying discriminatory policies and practices; and monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the program. Four primary industry authorities were exempted from the legislation (the ADC, the Australian Meat and Live-Stock Corporation (AMLC), the Australian Wheat Board (AWB) and the Australian Wool Corporation (AWC) as it was planned to amend their establishing legislation to provide for EEO programs. This has occurred in the case of the AMLC, AWB and AWC. The ADC, despite being exempt from having to provide an EEO program, has set in place a program. 1

The principal effect of the amendments proposed by this Bill to the ADC, which will have effect from 1 July 1991 (clause 2), will be to impose standard Commonwealth EEO requirements on the ADC.

Amendments to the Horticultural Research and Development Corporation Act 1987

The Horticultural Research and Development Corporation (HRDC) was established in August 1988. The objects of the HRDC include to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of Australian horticultural industries; to develop an awareness by these industries of the contribution that can be made by research and development; and to make more effective use of resources available for research and development. The functions of the HRDC include to investigate and evaluate the needs of the horticultural industry for research and development; develop research and development plans; coordinate and fund horticultural research and development activities; and monitor and report to Parliament and the horticultural industry on the research and development activities funded by the HRDC. The funding of research and development by the HRDC is on the basis of equal cost sharing by industry and the Commonwealth, with the Commonwealth matching expenditure on a dollar for dollar basis up to 0.5% of gross value of production of the particular horticultural industry. The income of the HRDC in 1988-89 totalled $598 988 and expenditure $455 864. The HRDC spent $184 754 on research and development grants in 1988-89. Projects funded during 1989-90 included research into nematode control in apple replants, control of citrus pests and promotion and marketing of carnation planting.

The principal effect of the amendments proposed by this Bill to the HRDC, which will have effect from 1 July 1991 (clause 2), will be to:

*make it a function of the HRDC to facilitate the dissemination, adoption and commercialisation of the results of horticultural research and development; and

*extend the powers of the HRDC by allowing it to acquire, hold and dispose of property and form companies.

References

1. For further information in relation to Commonwealth equal employment opportunity and sex discrimination legislation see: C. Larmour, Sex Discrimination Legislation in Australia, Parliamentary Research Service, October 1990.

Bills Digest Service 22 February 1991

Parliamentary Research Service

For further information, if required, contact the Economics and Commerce Group on 06 2772460.

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 1991

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Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1991.