Bills Digest No. 71 1996-97 Australia New Zealand Food Authority Amendment Bill 1996


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WARNING:
This Digest is prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments.

This Digest was available from 20 January 1997.

CONTENTS

Passage History

Australia New Zealand Food Authority Amendment Bill 1996

Date Introduced: 4 December 1996
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Health and Family Services
Commencement: Royal Assent

Purpose

The Bill amends the Australia New Zealand Food Authority Act 1991 (the Principal Act) to overcome operational limitations within the current Principal Act. The proposed amendments in the Bill will enable the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (the Authority) to better plan, manage and prioritise its workload.

Background

The Principal Act amended by this Bill was originally the National Food Authority Act 1991. The main goal of the Authority is to provide a national focus within Australia for cooperation between governments, industry and the community in developing a safe and wholesome food supply. The Authority operates as a specialist agency to ensure that there is uniformity in food standards across Australia. Under an Agreement entered into by the Commonwealth, the States and the Territories (in 1991), the States and Territories accept without variation, food standards recommended by the Authority and which the National Foods Standards Council has adopted. (1)

In late 1995, Parliament passed amending legislation to transform the National Food Authority into the Australia New Zealand Food Authority. (2) The legislation enabled New Zealand to be represented on the Board of the Authority as well as membership of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Council. This initiative introduced a joint food standards setting system for Australia and New Zealand. It also advances the closer cooperation and harmonisation of food standards and consumer information on the ingredients in food between the two countries.

The Principal Act in its present form imposes mandatory obligations upon the Authority to process applications for the development of a particular standard or variation to a standard. The Authority is also obliged to process applications in strict order of receipt. All applications must also be assessed individually. This Bill proposes the introduction of some flexibility in the Principal Act to enable the Authority to prioritise its workload in terms of the relative importance or value of applications and to review groupings of standards in lieu of individual standards. These proposed amendments will enable the Authority to complete a major task of a three-year Standards Review Work Program. Support and agreement to this Program (which will set priorities for food standards review) will involve negotiations with the food industry, the States and Territories, and New Zealand.

Main Provisions

Reader's Note: The proposed amendments are included in Schedule 1 to the Bill. The terminology to be used therefore is 'Item' in the Schedule in lieu of 'Clause' in the Bill. </ ul>

Item 1 in Schedule 1 introduces a requirement that applications for the development or variation of a food standard must be accompanied by the payment of a charge (if any) fixed under a proposed revised section 66 (see Item 8). The charges are fixed by Regulations made under the Principal Act. The Principal Act already contains the power to make Regulations to levy charges (existing section 66). Item 8 in Schedule 1 broadens the scope under which Regulations may be made to impose charges for services rendered by the Authority.

Item 2 adds a requirement to existing section 13 of the Principal Act to require the Authority to refund any charges where the Authority decides to reject an application for a preliminary assessment. A rejection could be on the grounds that the current application is so similar to a previous application that it ought not be accepted.

Items 3 and 4 impose an obligation upon the Authority not to make a full assessment of an application unless the requisite charge has been paid by the applicant.

Item 5 is similar to Item 2 and it requires the Authority to refund charges when it decides to reject an application for a full assessment.

[Digest Comment: Rejection of an application by the Authority may be reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal within the prescribed standard time limit.] </ ul>

Item 8 repeals and substitutes the power to make Regulations to fix charges payable to the Authority. As noted above, the power is broadened in scope by the proposed amendment.

Endnotes

  1. See Annual Report 1995-96, National Food Authority, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1996.
  2. National Food Authority Amendment Act 1995.

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Brendan Bailey (06 2772434)
15 January 1997
Bills Digest Service
Parliamentary Research Service

This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine whether the Bill has been enacted and, if so, whether the subsequent Act reflects further amendments.

PRS staff are available to discuss the paper's contents with Senators and Members and their staff but not with members of the public.

ISSN 1323-9031
Commonwealth of Australia 1997

Except to the extent of the uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without the prior written consent of the Parliamentary Library, other than by Members of the Australian Parliament in the course of their official duties.

Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1997.

This page was prepared by the Parliamentary Research Service, Commonwealth of Australia
Last updated: 15 January 1997.

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