Bills Digest No. 72 1999-2000 National Residue Survey Levies Regulations (Validation and Commencement of Amendments) Bill 1999


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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
Endnotes
Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Passage History

National Residue Survey Levies Regulations (Validation and Commencement of Amendments) Bill 1999

Date Introduced: 22 September 1999

House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Commencement: On Royal Assent

Purpose

To confirm that the levy system for sheep and lamb sales purported to have been introduced by the Primary Industries Levies and Charges (National Residue Survey Levies) Regulations 1998 (Amendment) should be taken to have commenced on 1 August 1998.

Background

The National Residue Survey (NRS) scheme monitors chemical residues in Australian agricultural products, including sheepmeat. Such monitoring is generally required as part of access agreements for both export and Australian domestic markets.

In June 1998, an agreement was reached between the Sheepmeat Council of Australia and the government on a new NRS levy system for sheep and lamb transactions. The agreement calculated the levy on an 'ad valorem' (by value) rather than a 'per head' basis. The agreement was incorporated into the NRS scheme via the Primary Industries Levies and Charges (National Residue Survey Levies) Regulations 1998 (Amendment) (otherwise known as Statutory Rules 1998 No.182, 'SR 182').

In July 1998, amendments were made to the commencement date of Primary Industries Levies and Charges (National Residue Survey Levies) Regulations (Amendment) 1998. It was apparently thought that these changes would carry over to SR 182 without actually having to redraft SR 182. The Government's intention was that the new levy was to start from 1 August 1998 and on this basis the levy was collected from that date.

However, following concerns expressed by the Standing Committee on Regulation and Ordinances about inconsistency of starting dates,(1) advice from the Attorney-General's Department in May 1999 concluded in effect that SR 182 should have been redrafted. As a consequence, the opinion found that SR 182 never actually commenced and hence legally the proper levy rate was that which applied under the old levy system.

The practical result is that since 1 August 1998 some lamb traders have paid more and some sheep traders paid less than legally bound to.

While a precise figure on the under/overpayments has not been calculated, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australia estimates indicate that the amount of underpayments has been substantially greater than overpayments - ie generally farmers would owe money to the NRS scheme. There has apparently no affect on NRS operations as a result of the problems with SR 182 as the scheme had budgeted for the new levy rate to come into effect on 1 August 1998.

In July 1999 the Sheepmeat Council wrote to Senator Troeth, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, requesting that amending legislation be passed to correct the situation and validate the levy collected from 1 August. The Bill does this by declaring that SR 182 is to be taken to have commenced and have effect from 1 August 1998. (if any)

Main Provisions

Subclause 3(1) declares that that SR 182 is taken to have commenced on 1 August 1998. This changes the legal situation of lamb and sheep traders such that under the Bill they are no longer considered to have paid more/less than bound to do so and so are not subject to any reimbursement / collection activities by the government. As indicated in the footnote to the Bill, this does not create a legal retrospectivity problem under subsection 48(2) of the Acts Intepretation Act 1901. It is considered quite permissible for an amending Act to declare that a legislative instrument such as a regulation should commence at date earlier that the Act itself commences.(2)

Subclause 3(2) is a consequential amendment. It provides that any regulations that amend the Primary Industries Levies and Charges (National Residue Survey Levies) Regulations 1998 are to operate as if SR 182 and the new levy scheme had commenced on 1 August 1998.

Endnotes

  1. Correspondence from Committee to Senator Troeth, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry dated 27 August 1998.

  2. See Pearce and Geddes, Statutory Interpretation in Australia,3rd Edition Butterworths 1996 at p. 244.

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Angus Martyn
14 October 1999
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 1999

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, 1999.

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