May 27, 2014
Mr CHESTER (Gippsland—Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence) (18:16): I will be summing up on behalf of the Minister for Agriculture, who cannot be in the chamber today. He actually has a knee injury, which at prevents his attendance. I know he will be disappointed at not being here, because he is very proud of this bill and in particular proud of the work that has been started by the new coalition government to assist the agricultural industry.
I would begin by thanking all members who have spoken in relation to the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Legislation Amendment (Removing Re-approval and Re-Registration) Bill 2014, beginning, of course, with the member for Grey, who we have just heard from, who brings his great passionate advocacy on behalf of not only his own electorate of Grey but also of all rural industries and all rural communities across Australia. We have also heard from the members for Canning, Dawson, Lyons, Murray, Riverina, O'Connor, Durack, Lyne, Barker, Lindsay, Calare, Forrest, Macquarie and Wannon along with, from the opposition benches, the members for Hunter, Parramatta and Throsby. The list of speakers in relation to this bill I believe reflects the importance of this issue. It is almost a complete rollcall of regional members and reflects their interest in and their passion for the agricultural sector. It also gave the House an opportunity to hear from members with years of practical experience. Many of those members have served and worked on the land have a great deal to offer the chamber. I appreciate their contributions in the chamber both yesterday and today.
This bill aims to reduce the unnecessary regulatory burden on this industry, resulting in reduced costs to the industry that will eventually flow on to benefit primary producers themselves, and which may also lead to greater investment in new, safer innovative products for the future.
The Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Legislation Amendment (Removing Re-approval and Re-Registration) Bill 2014 contributes to the Australian government's commitment to easing the burden imposed on the Australian economy and agricultural sector by reducing red and green tape on businesses by at least $1 billion per year by removing the requirement for agvet chemicals to be re-registered. The bill builds on earlier progress that has already been made through the national registration scheme, a partnership between the Commonwealth and all the states and territories, and on elements of the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Legislation Amendment Act 2013. These changes will improve the effectiveness of the regulatory system and reduce inefficiency at the APVMA. They will better protect human and animal health and safety and protect the environment.
This bill has wide-ranging stakeholder support, primarily because it has estimated a capacity to save industry up to $9 million in red tape and associated costs. It is a common sense approach that has been endorsed by peak farming bodies and the key industry groups. The bill is in keeping with the coalition's determination to ease the regulatory burden on Australia's economy. We understand that reducing red tape, reducing green tape, provides greater efficiency and reduces costs which leads to more private sector investment and employment, not just in the cities but throughout regional Australia. This bill was developed in consultation with other Commonwealth and state agencies along with industry, community and environment groups and the general public.
This is not just about reducing red and green tape; it sends a strong signal to the agricultural sector that this government is serious about providing practical support right across the nation. These are practical measures to help industry to prosper in the future. This side of the House understands the importance of agriculture to our nation. I contend that, by the support of the members of the opposition, there is a recognition also on the other benches of the need to support the agricultural sector with practical measures such as these.
Speaker after speaker on this bill has spoken of the importance of agricultural industries in their respective electorates. My electorate of Gippsland is no different, as you are well aware, Deputy Speaker Broadbent. We share a border and we share agricultural interests in timber, fishing, dairy, beef and horticulture. It is important to recognise that our agricultural sectors, our primary industries, all use a range of agvet chemicals which help to boost productivity.
I would like to acknowledge in summing up the that the shadow minister has indicated that the opposition will not be opposing the bill in this place. In his speech the shadow minister indicated, and I quote from his speech that the opposition:
… ill not oppose or seek to amend the 2014 bill in this chamber. In other words, we do not claim that the 2013 regime is necessarily the only way of protecting human health and the natural environment while also providing farmers and other consumers with affordable and appropriately easy to access crop protection. Rather, we will allow the bill passage through the House but we have referred the bill to a Senate inquiry for further review. I note that … the committee has received some 22 submissions, 20 of which support the removal of re-registration.
… I'm determined and my party is determined to do what is best for public health and for the environment and what is best for the agriculture sector.
As I said, I understand that the opposition will not be opposing the passage of the bill through this chamber and will consider the details as part of the Senate committee processes.
As we have heard from several speakers here over the past 24 hours, this bill will implement the government's 2013 election commitment to remove the requirement that agvet chemicals re-registration by: removing end dates for approvals and last renewal dates for registrations so that approvals will no longer end after a particular period and registrations may be renewed perpetually; and by removing redundant provisions that allow applications to reapprove and re-register active constituents and chemical products.
The bill will also: reduce red tape by providing for less frequent registration renewals; improve the APVMA's ability to secure information about the safety of chemicals supplied in the market; introduce further simple reforms to agvet chemicals regulation to reduce red tape and improve efficiency; oblige the APVMA to provide access to information about approvals and registrations in its files to persons eligible is to receive it; and address some minor implementation issues identified in recent reform legislation.
Overall, the bill will increase efficiency in implementing these measures and will provide great clarity to stakeholders on the intent of the legislation. The government will continue to work with industry to implement further improvements through legislation and administrative change.
I also take the opportunity to thank the minister's staff and the departmental officials for their efforts in securing the passage of these reforms. I commend the bill to the House.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.