Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Amendment Bill 2013; Second Reading
That this bill be now read a second time.
This bill is part of a package of bills streamlining rural research and development legislation to ensure it remains responsive and adapted to industry and national needs. It will commence concurrently with the other bills in that package, the Rural Research and Development Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 and the Primary Industries (Customs) Charges Amendment Bill 2013.
The Australian agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries have asked government to impose levies to collaboratively fund essential industry services. These include research and development, extension and in some cases marketing, through the 15 research and development corporations.
This bill removes maximum research, development and marketing levy rates from the Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Act 1999. The bill provides that levy rates set by regulations must be the subject of a recommendation from relevant industry bodies, who must consult with levy payers. The bill provides that the regulations will not be able to set a levy rate higher than the highest rate recommended by industry. This will safeguard against arbitrary levy increases.
Proposals for levy increases can occur in response to market changes or seasonal conditions. If an industry wishes to increase its levy rate above the legislated maximum, it is currently a time-consuming and costly process. This will often result in levy increases taking effect much later than is desirable, given the circumstances to which they respond. Eliminating the need to amend the act will streamline this process, reducing the time between a rate increase proposal and the change coming into effect.
The removal of maximum levy rates was recommended by the Productivity Commission following a review of the RDC model. Industry stakeholders and the RDCs were consulted on the changes during and after the review. There is broad support for the removal of maximum rates.
New consultation requirements in the bill provide greater detail and consistency regarding who must be consulted when setting rates, and how to consult levy payers if there is no declared representative body.
This bill encourages primary industries to control their investment in R&D, extension and marketing. The levy-setting process will be easier and more responsive to industry needs. Robust consultation and consensus requirements ensure that levy setting remains industry's responsibility.