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.
Australia New Zealand Food Authority Amendment Bill
Date Introduced: 4 December 1996
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Health and Family Services
Commencement: Royal Assent
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
- See Annual Report 1995-96, National Food Authority,
Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1996.
- National Food Authority Amendment Act 1995.
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
PRS staff are available to discuss the paper's contents
with Senators and Members and their staff but not with members of
Commonwealth of Australia 1997
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This page was prepared by the Parliamentary Research Service,
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Last updated: 15 January 1997.
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