Bills Digest No. 791998-99 National Residue Survey (Excise) Levy Amendment Bill 1998


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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 (Excise) Levy Amendment Bill 1998

Date Introduced: 3 December 1998

House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Commencement: 1 July 1999.

Purpose

The major amendments proposed by the Bill are definitional and ensure consistency between the proposed Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Act 1998 and the National Residue Survey (Excise) Levy Act 1998.

Background

The Bill forms part of a package of five Bills designed to consolidate 40 levy and charge imposition Acts into two principal Acts. The Bills in this package are the Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Bill 1998, the Primary Industries (Customs) Charges Bill 1998, the Primary Industries Levies and Charges (Consequential Amendments) Bill 1998, the National Residue Survey (Customs) Levy Amendment Bill 1998 and the Bill.

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.

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.

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.

The NRS is administered by the Bureau of Rural Sciences, within the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Funds for the operations of the NRS are provided from five sources, the principal being levies paid 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.

Recent Major NRS Legislative Amendments

Amendments contained in the National Residue Survey Administration Amendment Act 1998, in conjunction with the National Residue Survey (Customs) Levy Act 1998 and the National Residue Survey (Excise) Levy Act 1998, consolidated 22 NRS levy imposition acts into 2 Acts. As stated in the Second Reading Speech to the National Residue Survey Administration Amendment Bill 1998:

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.

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 was 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.

National Residue Survey (Excise) Levy Act 1998

The Schedules to the Act impose 16 levies that are excise duties. For example, Schedule 1, which relates to cattle transactions, imposes a levy, the NRS levy, on:

  • each transaction entered into involving the transfer of ownership of cattle from one person to another
  • the delivery of cattle to a processor otherwise than because of a sale to the processor, or
  • the slaughter of cattle.

The levy is not imposed in certain circumstances, including:

  • on the sale of dairy cattle for dairying purposes
  • on the sale of cattle at auction to the vendor
  • on the sale or delivery of cattle between related companies, unless the company buying or taking delivery was or is a processor
  • delivery of cattle to a processor for slaughter on behalf of the person delivering the cattle if delivery occurs within 14 days after the cattle were or are acquired by that person, the cattle are afterwards slaughtered, and the person continues to own the cattle straight after their hot carcass weight is determined, or taken to have been determined, and
  • in prescribed circumstances.

The rate of NRS levy for each head on each head of cattle (other than a leviable bobby calf) is 32 cents, or a prescribed amount up to a maximum of 35 cents. The rate of levy for each head of cattle that is a leviable bobby calf is 26 cents, or a prescribed amount up to a maximum of 35 cents.

The NRS levy is payable by:

  • in the case of cattle which have changed ownership, the person owning the cattle immediately before the change of ownership
  • in the case of cattle delivered to a processor otherwise than because of a sale to the processor, by the person owning the cattle immediately before the delivery, and
  • in the case of cattle slaughtered by a processor, by the person who owned the cattle at the time of slaughter.

Main Provisions

Amendments to the National Residue Survey (Excise) Levy Act 1998

The effect of the amendments proposed by item 1 of Schedule 1 is to ensure consistency between the definitions of cattle, dairy cattle, licensed dairy farmer, and lot-fed cattle used in the National Residue Survey (Excise) Levy Act 1998 (the Act) and the proposed Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Act 1998.

Item 2 of Schedule 1 omits the term 'the Beef Production Levy Act 1990' from subparagraph 2(2)(d)(iii) of the Act and substitutes the term 'Schedule 1 to the Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Act 1998'. Subsection 1(2) of Schedule 1 of the Act specifies cattle transactions in relation to which the NRS levy is not imposed. Subparagraph 2(2)(d)(iii) provides that the NRS levy is not imposed on the delivery of cattle to a processor for slaughter on behalf of the person delivering the cattle if the person continues to own the cattle immediately after their hot carcase weight, within the meaning of the Beef Production Levy Act 1990, is determined. The effect of the proposed amendment ensures consistency between definitions used in the proposed Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Act 1998 and the Act.

Item 3 of Schedule 1 inserts a new definition of 'leviable amount' in Schedule 2 of the Act. Schedule 2 of the Act deals with the NRS levy and coarse grains (eg. barley, oats, grain sorghum or prescribed coarse grain). The proposed definition provides that the leviable amount in relation to a levy year is $50.00 or a prescribed amount. The rationale for the amendment given in the Explanatory Memorandum is unclear. Neither the Second Reading Speech nor Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill provide a rationale. The most likely rationale for the amendment is that it corrects a drafting error in the Act. If one examines other types of grains subject to the NRS levy one finds that a leviable amount is specified (eg. the leviable amount in respect to eligible grain legumes is $50.00 or a prescribed amount). Alternatively, the amendment could be consequential to the amendments proposed by items 4 and 5 of Schedule 1 of the Bill.

New subsections 5(1A) and 5(2A) are inserted in Schedule 2 of the Act by items 4 and 5 of Schedule 1. Subsection 5(1) of Schedule 2 of the Act specifies the circumstances in which the NRS levy is imposed on leviable coarse grains. Proposed subsection 5(1A) provides that where, in a levy year, leviable coarse grain is delivered to a particular person by producers of such grain, and the total amount of NRS levy imposed on the grain would be less than the leviable amount (ie. $50 or a prescribed amount), the NRS levy is not imposed on the grain.

Subsection 5(2) of Schedule 2 of the Act specifies the circumstances in which the NRS levy is not imposed on leviable coarse grains. Proposed subsection 5(2A) provides that the NRS levy is not imposed on leviable coarse grain where, in a levy year, a producer processes leviable coarse grain that the producer has produced, paragraph (2)(b) does not apply and the total amount of the NRS levy imposed on the grain would be less than the leviable amount.

The rationale given by the Government for the amendments proposed by items 4 and 5 of Schedule 1 of the Bill is:

These items are required because of a change to the legislation for the imposition of levy on coarse grains in Schedule 4 to the Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Act 1998, which provides for the exemption from levy of leviable coarse grain which are [sic] either processed by the producer for commercial use, or where the amount of levy payable in a levy year on leviable coarse grain which is either delivered or processed would be less than the leviable amount.(1)

Section 2 of Schedule 3 of the Act specifies the circumstances in which the NRS levy is imposed on relevant dairy products. Many of the circumstances specified in section 2 contain a sunset clause of 1 July 2000 (eg. relevant dairy products supplied by the producer after the commencement of this Schedule and before 1 July 2000). The effect of item 6 of Schedule 1 of the Bill is to remove the sunset clause wherever appearing in section 2. The rationale given by the Government in the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill for the removal of the sunset clause is:

This item amends the definition of the National Residue Survey Levy on relevant dairy produce to ensure that the provisions for the imposition of this levy remain in place beyond 30 June 2000. This aspect of the National Residue Survey Levy on relevant dairy produce becomes consistent with National Residue Survey legislation for other rural industries.(2)

The effect of the amendments proposed by items 8 and 9 of Schedule 1 is to ensure consistency between the definitions of 'horticultural products' and 'lamb', 'sheep' and 'slaughter' used in the Act and the proposed Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Act 1998.

Endnotes

1. National Residue Survey (Excise) Levy Amendment Bill 1998, Explanatory Memorandum, pp. 3-4.

2. Ibid., p. 4.

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Ian Ireland
20 January 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

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Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1999.

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