Additional Comments from Senator Glenn Sterle
There is no doubt that there remains concern amongst some export
certification users about the move to new cost recovery arrangements, in
particular for horticulture exporters and some exporters of meat products.
Some of the evidence in this report is superseded by agreements between
the Minister and export user groups.
- the Minister announced an agreement with the Australian Meat
Industry Council on 5 September 2011 “Gillard Government supports regional meat
processing jobs”. The Coalition also announced its agreement to this
arrangement on 14 September 2011 “Coalition stands by meat industry to the tune
of $25.8million” (14 September 2011) and again on 19 September 2011 in the
House of Representatives (Main Committee) Hansard:
Mr Tehan: Those on the other side may laugh, but I would like
to highlight that the coalition has once again played a very constructive and
positive role in producing an outcome, in this instance, for the meat industry.
I would like to especially recognise the member for Calare for the role that he
has played in bringing about this positive outcome.
- On 23 September, the Minister announced new arrangements for the
Grains exporters “Government reforms to improve wheat export marketing
- On 26 October the Minister announced the trial of AQIS Authorised
Officers for citrus exporters and the department gave evidence that that trial
was being extended to the mango and table grape sectors over the summer.
In addition to this progress between the hearings of this inquiry, I
also note that since the committee hearing on 29 November 2011, regulations
have been made and registered on the Federal Register of Legislative
Instruments that will implement the Minister’s agreement with the Grains
Ministerial Task Force and set the framework for implementing an arrangement
with the Seafood Ministerial Task Force.
These developments indicate that the Minister and his department are
committed to working with industries on improving service delivery and
achieving efficiency. They also indicate that the Government and industry
progress on these issues is happening in real time – with progress before and
after the hearings.
The Minister’s correspondence to the Australian Horticulture Exporters
Association of 5 December 2011 and copied to this inquiry noted that the
“Government has demonstrated its willingness to support the process and the
industries going through transition”.
I also note witness statements, cited in this report about a Government
undertaking to commission a report into the “legitimate costs of government”.
Correspondence tabled in this inquiry from the then Minister (Burke) refers to
a research project which is now published on the department’s website.
On the recommendations:
The evidence presented to the committee from those involved in the
process indicates that AQIS can do better in its engagement with export user
groups. I broadly support the recommendations as they are relevant to the AQIS
consultation framework but note the disparity between the results achieved by
different export commodity groups in their interaction with essentially the
same personnel that warrants further consideration by AQIS and industry alike.
I do not support Recommendation 3. It is not appropriate to use a
“one size fits all” approach for multiple certifications. The Government has
already shown that it is committed to working with industries regarding the
costs of Health and Halal Certificates.
I do not support Recommendation 4 (retaining the 40% rebate for
AQIS export certification functions). Retaining the 40% rebate in perpetuity
will not provide a driver for an agreed reform position. As indicated by the
Minister’s correspondence, copied to this inquiry, the Government has
demonstrated its willingness to provide transitional assistance where reforms
are agreed. Evidence provided by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and
Forestry indicating that the Government is considering further assistance to
the smaller meat processors confirms the Minister’s position.
Senator Glenn Sterle
Australian Labor Party
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