Bills Digest No.167  1997-98 National Residue Survey Administration Amendment Bill 1998


Numerical Index | Alphabetical Index

WARNING:
This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

CONTENTS

Passage History
Purpose
Background
Main Provisions
Concluding Comments
Endnotes
Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Passage History

National Residue Survey Administration Amendment Bill 1998

Date Introduced: 4 March 1998

House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Primary Industries and Energy

Commencement: The amendments proposed by Schedule 1 are taken to have commenced on 1 February 1994. Where the amendments proposed by Schedules 2 and 3 do not commence within six months of the day on which the Bill receives the Royal Assent, they are taken to have commenced on the day after that period. The remaining provisions commence on Royal Assent.

Purpose

The Bill is part of a package of three Bills, the major purpose of which is to consolidate 22 National Residue Survey (NRS) levy imposition acts into 2 acts. The Bill also corrects a number of technical errors in legislation supporting the NRS, including that liability for payment of NRS levies is not dependent on the payment of another primary industry levy.

Background

The National Residue Survey

The National Residue Survey (NRS) is a monitoring program testing for residues of chemical contaminants in agricultural and fisheries food commodities, animal feed and fibre products.(1)

Information collected by NRS is used to provide information and advice on chemical residues to Australian governments, industry, trading partners and the public.

The role played by the NRS is central to the continuance of Australia's international food commodities trade. Some of Australia's major trading partners, such as the United States and the European Community, require a government chemical residue monitoring program as a condition of entry for certain products.(2)

The NRS was established in the 1960s as the Commonwealth's response to concerns about pesticide residues in key meat export markets. The NRS was subsequently expanded to cover food commodities including grains, fruit and vegetables, dairy products, eggs, honey, and meat for the domestic market. In 1996-97 over 76 000 samples of 28 commodities were analysed by the NRS for chemical residues.(3)

The NRS is administered by the Bureau of Resource Sciences, within the Department of Primary Industries and Energy.

Funds for the operations of the NRS are provided from five sources, the principal being levies payed by participating industries. Administration of funds collected is through the National Residue Survey Administration Act 1992. The Act also prescribes the purposes for which funds collected can be used and the products and activities on which liability to pay levies arise. Industry contributions totalled $6 083 923 in 1996-97.(4)

Rationale for amendments

The amendments proposed by the Bill have two major effects. First, in conjunction with the National Residue Survey (Customs) Levy Bill 1998 and the National Residue Survey (Excise) Levy Bill 1998, consolidation of 22 NRS levy imposition acts into 2 acts. Secondly, to correct technical errors in legislation supporting the NRS which have had the unintended effect of making liability to pay NRS levies dependent on liability to pay another primary industry levy. As stated in the Second Reading Speech to the Bill:

It was intended that [the original intention of the National Residue Survey Administration Act 1992], in order to reduce collection costs, national residue survey levies would be collected at the same point in the process as other primary industry levies, but not that one would be dependent upon the other. The current situation means that some industries wishing to participate in national residue survey monitoring programs will not be able to do so; that is, those industries not already paying another primary industry levy.(5)

The other technical error which the Bill seeks to amend relates to the NRS levy on onions. Because, as mentioned above, liability for payment of NRS levies are seen to be dependent on the payment of another primary industry levy, the Government has also been advised that there is a problem where the rate of levy in respect of that other levy rate is zero. A question arises as to whether a zero rate of levy can trigger liability for payment of the NRS levy. Amendments proposed by the Bill seek to clarify this problem retrospectively.

The rationale given by the Government in the Second Reading Speech to the Bill for the consolidation of 22 NRS levy imposition acts into 2 acts is that:

This move [the consolidation] is being undertaken as part of a streamlining of portfolio legislation and should provide improved access to portfolio legislation by members of the public and make its administration simpler.(6)

Main Provisions

Schedule 1 - Amendments commencing on 1 February 1994

Amendments to the National Residue Survey Administration Act 1992

A person will be taken to have been liable to pay the charge on onions under the Horticultural Export Charge Act 1987 even if the rate of charge is zero (item 1 of Schedule 1). As mentioned in the 'Background' to this Digest, a question has arisen, because liability for payment of NRS levies are perceived to be dependent on the payment of another primary industry levy, whether a zero rate of levy can trigger liability for payment of the NRS levy. This amendment seeks to address this problem retrospectively.

Amendments to the Primary Industries Levies and Charges Collection (National Residue Survey-Onion) Regulations

The effect of items 2-7 of Schedule 1 is to ensure that the need to have a liability to pay a levy on onions does not preclude liability to pay the NRS levy on onions. These amendments address as mentioned in the 'Background' to this Digest, with respect to onions, the perceived problem of liability for payment of NRS levies being seen to be dependent on the payment of another primary industries levy.

Schedule 2 - Amendments commencing on Proclamation

Amendments to the National Residue Survey Administration Act 1992

Part 4 of the National Residue Survey Administration Act 1992 deals with liability to pay NRS levy. The effect of the repeal of Part 4 proposed by item 6 of Schedule 2 is to remove the perceived link between dependence to pay NRS levy on the payment of another primary industries levy.

Item 8 of Schedule 2 provides for the continued application of transactions, obligations etc., entered into under provisions of NRS legislation specified in the table prior to the commencement of Schedules 1 and 2.

Schedule 3 - Repeal of Acts

Item 1 of Schedule 3 repeals the following Acts:

National Residue Survey (Aquatic Animal Export) Levy Act 1992

National Residue Survey (Buffalo Slaughter) Levy Act 1997

National Residue Survey (Cattle Export) Levy Act 1997

National Residue Survey (Cattle Transactions) Levy Act 1997

National Residue Survey (Coarse Grains) Levy Act 1992

National Residue Survey (Dairy Produce) Levy Act 1992

National Residue Survey (Dried Fruits) Levy Act 1992

National Residue Survey (Game Animals) Levy Act 1992

National Residue Survey (Grain Legumes) Levy Act 1992

National Residue Survey (Honey Export) Levy Act 1992

National Residue Survey (Horse Slaughter) Levy Act 1992

National Residue Survey (Horticultural Products Export) Levy Act 1992

National Residue Survey (Horticultural Products) Levy Act 1992

National Residue Survey (Laying Chicken) Levy Act 1992

National Residue Survey (Livestock Slaughter) Levy Act 1992

National Residue Survey (Meat Chicken) Levy Act 1992

National Residue Survey (Oilseeds) Levy Act 1992

National Residue Survey (Ratite Slaughter) Levy Act 1997

National Residue Survey (Sheep, Lambs and Goats Export) Levy Act 1997

National Residue Survey (Sheep, Lambs and Goats Transactions) Levy Act 1997

National Residue Survey (Wheat) Levy Act 1992

Concluding Comments

The effect of the major amendment proposed by the Bill, in conjunction with the National Residue Survey (Customs) Levy Bill 1998 and the National Residue Survey (Excise) Levy Bill 1998, is to provide for the consolidation of 22 NRS levy imposition acts into 2 acts.

Section 55 of the Constitution provides:

Laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation, and any provision therein dealing with any other matter shall be of no effect.
Laws imposing taxation, except laws imposing duties of customs or of excise shall deal with one subject of taxation only; but laws imposing duties of customs shall deal with duties of customs only, and laws imposing duties of excise shall deal with duties of excise only.

Given that this package of Bills seeks to consolidate 22 taxes into 2 acts the question might be asked whether the package is in breach of section 55 paragraph 2, by virtue of dealing with more than one subject of taxation.

The answer to the above question is, in my opinion, no. Laws imposing customs and excise duties, even though they are taxes, are excepted from the requirement of section 55 paragraph 2 that laws imposing taxation shall deal with one subject of taxation only (Mathews v Chicory Marketing Board (Vic) (1938) 60 CLR 263, 291-292.). Thus, provided a customs law deals with customs, or an excise law with excise, multiple customs or excise items within the one document are, in my opinion, of no consequence (Nott Bros & Co. Ltd v Barkley (1925) 36 CLR 20, 26).

Endnotes

  1. National Residue Survey, Annual Report 1996-97: 2.
  2. Ibid, 3.
  3. Ibid, 4.
  4. Ibid, 44.
  5. House of Representatives, Proof Hansard, 4 March 1998, 300.
  6. Ibid.

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Ian Ireland
26 March 1998
Bills Digest Service
Information and Research Services

This paper has been prepared for general distribution to Senators and Members of the Australian Parliament. While great care is taken to ensure that the paper is accurate and balanced, the paper is written using information publicly available at the time of production. The views expressed are those of the author and should not be attributed to the Information and Research Services (IRS). Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion. Readers are reminded that the paper is not an official parliamentary or Australian government document.

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

ISSN 1328-8091
© Commonwealth of Australia 1998

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, 1998.



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