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Contact Officer and Copyright Details
Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 1998
Date Introduced: 8 April 1998
Portfolio: Resources and Energy
Commencement: The Schedule
prohibiting the commercial taking of marlin commences 28 days after Royal Assent.
The amendments setting the final levy and export charge periods are
taken to have commenced on 1 July 1997 and the repeals of the prawn
promotion scheme legislation commence 3 years after Royal
The purpose of this legislation is twofold. It
repeals the 1995 legislative package that implements a scheme to
promote Australian sea-caught prawns (the Prawn Boat Levy Act
1995, the Prawn Export Charge Act 1995 and the
Prawn Export Promotion Act 1995). It also amends the
Fisheries Management Act 1991 to prohibit the commercial
taking of black marlin and blue marlin in the Australian fishing
Marlin protection provisions
Blue and black marlin have little value to
commercial fishers as there is no domestic or export market for
them. They are, however, of interest to game fishing groups and
attract overseas tourists who are interested in fishing them. Data
presented to a House of Representatives inquiry into Commonwealth
fisheries showed that the number of black and blue marlin caught
and tagged had declined massively in recent years.(1)
Since 1988 a voluntary ban on catching these
fish by commercial fishing operators has been in place, but there
is some evidence that a small number of operators have ignored the
ban. The House of Representative committee recommended that a
mandatory ban be imposed to prevent further depletion of stocks.(2)
Such a ban is also in line with the Government's 1996 election
commitment to impose a mandatory ban if the voluntary ban was
Prawn promotion scheme
In 1995 the previous Government introduced the
Prawn Boat Levy Act 1995, the Prawn Export Charge Act
1995 and the Prawn Export Promotion Act 1995. This
package of legislation imposed a compulsory levy on commercial
prawn boats, an export charge on sea-caught prawns and provided for
the collection, management and expenditure of these funds. The
funds collected were for use by the Australian Prawn Promotion
Association (APPA) to fund the promotion of sea-caught prawns and
the Australian prawn industry on world markets.
The current boat levy for a full levy period is
$50 for a ship less than 10 metres long; $100 for a ship that is at
least 10 metres but less than 15 metres long; $200 for a ship that
is at least 15 metres but less than 18 metres long; $400 for a ship
that is at least 18 metres but less than 20 metres long; and $600
for a ship that is at least 20 metres long. The export charge for
prawns exported on or before 31 December 1997 was $0.02 a kilogram
net weight of exports of sea-caught prawns, parts of sea-caught
prawns and prawn components of sea-caught prawns, payable by an
operator only after a threshold of 5,000 kilograms of prawns was
The levy collected was approximately $150 000 a
year and the export charge collected was approximately $240 000 a
year depending on the quantity of exports. This provided APPA with
approximately $400 000 per annum for its promotion activities. The
costs to the prawn operators of this scheme were estimated to
average $800 per year.
The present Government's policy on compulsory
primary industry levies is that they should only be imposed where
they have 'substantial industry support, and there is significant
market failure'.(3) In December 1996 the Minister for Resources and
Energy was approached by a group of prawn operators who strongly
opposed paying the compulsory levies and charges. To test the
general level of support for this levy Coopers and Lybrand was
commissioned to conduct a plebicite of the industry. The response
rate to the plebicite was 65%. Of those who responded, 85% opposed
the levy and charge. Those who support the continued operation of
the scheme expressed concern that without the funding provided by
the levies and charges APPA could not continue with its functions.
However, after discussions with APPA and the prawn operators and
exporters the Government announced that the levy and charge would
be abolished from 1 January 1998.
The initial step in abolishing the scheme was to
amend the Prawn Export Promotion Levies and Charges Regulations.
The amending regulations (SR 409/1997) set the levy at $0.00 from 1
July 1988 and divided the levy payments into two payments over the
levy period. The payment for each period is set at half of the rate
already prescribed. The second step is to legislate to cancel the
levy payment for the second half of the levy period (1 January - 30
June 1998) and to set a final levy period so than no levy can be
imposed from 1 January 1998. The final step is to repeal the
legislation that enacts the scheme.
Clause 4 allows the Acts repealed in the
Schedules to continue to apply in relation to a levy or charge
imposed before the repeal to facilitate the collection of
Item 1 of Schedule 1 amends the
Fisheries Management Act 1991 by inserting section 15A.
This section prohibits the taking of black or blue marlin unless
the person holds a scientific permit authorising the taking, or the
fish is taken in the course of recreational or charter boat
fishing. The penalty for not complying with this ban is 125 units
(a penalty unit currently equals $110).
It is a defence to a prosecution under this
section to satisfy the court that steps were taken to immediately
return the fish to its natural environment.
Item 1of Schedule 2 replaces
section 5(2) of the Prawn Boat Levy Act 1995, setting the
final levy period as 1 July - 31 December 1997. This amendment is
taken to have commenced on 1 July 1997. Item 2 of Schedule
2 repeals the Prawn Boat Levy Act 1995 with the
repeal commencing 3 years after Royal Assent.
Item 1 of Schedule 3 amends
section 4 of the Prawn Export Charge Act 1995 so that only
those prawns exported from Australia on or before 31 December 1997
are subject to the charge. This amendment is taken to have
commenced on 1 July 1997. Item 2 of Schedule 3
repeals the Prawn Export Charge Act 1995 with the repeal
commencing 3 years after Royal Assent.
Schedule 4 repeals the
Prawn Export Promotion Act 1995 with the repeal commencing
3 years after Royal Assent.
- House of Representatives. Standing Committee on Primary
Industries, Resources and Rural and Regional Affairs, Managing
Commonwealth Fisheries, para. 13.24.
- Recommendation 37.
- Press Release by the Minister for Resources and
Energy, Senator the Hon. Warwick Parer, 4 November 1997.
8 May 1998
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