Senate debates

Thursday, 10 May 2018


Primary Industries Research and Development Amendment Bill 2017, Treasury Laws Amendment (Working Holiday Maker Employer Register) Bill 2017; Second Reading

12:24 pm

Photo of James McGrathJames McGrath (Queensland, Liberal National Party, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That these bills be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows—



Proactive industries are the future of Australian agriculture, fisheries and forestry – industries that see an opportunity to promote their product, grow their business and become more profitable. This bill will help a range of rural industry sectors to make it happen.

In the late 1980s, industry and government established the rural research and development (R&D) corporations under the Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989. Since then, the R&D corporations have helped to keep rural industries productive and profitable by conducting research, development and extension which is practical and relevant to each industry sector. Industry and government both invest in the R&D corporations. Industry invests through levies on production and the Australian Government invests by matching industry's R&D levy expenditure. According to ABARES estimates, for every dollar invested in broadacre agricultural R&D farmers generate a $12 return within 10 years.

Strong agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries are good for all Australians. ABARES forecasts our farm exports to be around $47.7 billion in 2016-17 and $48.7 billion the next year.

There are 15 rural R&D Corporations, of which 14 can carry out marketing activities. Only ten do, however, and they provide a valuable service to their industry sectors. Marketing has helped to build our pork, wool and red meat industries, to name just a few, and expanded Australian access to international markets.

Four statutory R&D corporations are still governed by the 1989 legislation – the Fisheries, Cotton, Grains and Rural Industries R&D Corporations. Unlike most R&D Corporations, they must have a statutory levy attached to the corporation in order to undertake marketing. This change was made in 2013 following wide consultation which lead to the passage of the Rural Research and Development Legislation Amendment Act 2013.

The process to impose a statutory levy is often time consuming and its collection can be expensive. The Fisheries R&D Corporation and its industry bodies say that smaller industries cannot afford the costs of establishing and collecting a statutory levy.

This bill provides that the Fisheries, Cotton, Grains and Rural Industries R&D Corporations will be able to carry out marketing activities using voluntary contributions – for example a gift, grant or bequest. This will add to their existing ability to conduct marketing with statutory levy funds.

The R&D Corporation will have to report on the marketing activities it carries out each financial year in its annual report.

The bill will expand the definition of 'marketing activities' to include matters incidental to marketing. This will allow R&D Corporations to scope, plan and coordinate marketing activities without having to use funds provided to them for R&D purposes. The expanded definition mirrors the definition of R&D activities to make it easier to apply and understand.

The affected R&D Corporations support the provisions in this bill.



This Bill introduces changes to ensure that details of the working holiday maker employer register are not made public. It also ensures information sharing between the Australian Taxation Office and the Fair Work Ombudsman, is undertaken in situations in which an entity is actually or is reasonably suspected of non-compliance with a tax law.

Through minor amendments to the taxation laws, this Bill removes the ability for details of the employer register to be made public on the ABN Lookup.

This change will not affect the operation of the employer register or the rules applying to employers of working holiday makers. All employers of working holiday makers will still be required to register with the ATO in order to withhold at the 15 per cent tax rate.

The register addresses concerns about the exploitation of working holiday makers and will provide valuable data on working holiday makers. This amendment being introduced today does not affect the requirement for the ATO to report this information annually to the Treasurer, for presentation to the Parliament. This reporting process involves aggregate employer information and will not identify any working holiday maker employers.

This Bill also ensures information sharing between the ATO and the Fair Work Ombudsman will be limited to situations in which an entity is actually or is reasonably suspected of noncompliance with a tax law.

Full details of this Bill are contained in the explanatory memorandum.

Debate adjourned.

Ordered that the bills be listed on the Notice Paper as separate orders of the day.