Levies process reform

​​​The department is delivering a work programme focused on improving how levies processes operate.

This work brings together a number of priority levies-related tasks, including:

  • Exploring opportunities to improve the levy system based on feedback from stakeholders
  • Required reviews of sunsetting levies legislative instruments
  • Implementing the government response to the Senate inquiry on levies.

The scope of this work includes the processes, policy and legislation associated with statutory research and development (R&D), marketing, residue testing, biosecurity and emergency response levies.

The work does not include any consideration of the rural research and development corporation model or the government’s commitment to matching funding for eligible R&D, and will not review or change individual levies established by industries.

Further information on the scope of and background to this work is in the FAQs. If you have any other enquiries, please contact the Levies Taskforce.

Consultation

The levy system is a partnership between government and industry. In August 2017 the department concluded a three-month stakeholder consultation period seeking feedback on a set of options aimed at increasing flexibility in levies processes. Feedback was broadly positive and the department is now refining the options based on stakeholder views and settling next steps.

While formal consultation has concluded for now, there is still the opportunity to contribute your views. Please contact the Levies Taskforce.

Frequently asked questions

What do you mean by the agricultural levy system?

Agricultural levies and charges are imposed on primary producers by government at the request of industry. There are currently 113 levies on 77 commodities. The process to prepare a levy proposal to government is set out in the 2009 Levy Principles and Guidelines. Industries may choose to establish a levy for research and development, marketing, the National Residue Survey, membership to Animal or Plant Health Australia and emergency responses. The department is responsible for collecting and disbursing levies to 18 levy recipient bodies. The levy system enables industries to respond to collective needs, and help maintain and strengthen their position in highly competitive international markets through resource sharing and cooperation.

Why is the department doing this work?

The current levy system has been in place since the 1980s and grown over time as more and more commodities have chosen to establish statutory levies. This will be the first time the system has been reviewed as a whole, with the aim of making it easier to work with (saving time and money) and more responsive to changes in an industry’s priorities or way of doing business.

The starting point for this work is stakeholder feedback received by the department, including in consultations held in mid-2016. The department will also be implementing the government’s response to the Senate inquiry on levies last year and reviewing 24 levies-related legislative instruments (e.g. regulations, declarations) that are due to sunset in 2023.

What is the scope of this work?

The work does not include any consideration of the RDC model, the government’s commitment to matching funding for eligible R&D, or how levy funds are invested by RDCs. The work will not seek to review individual levies—the focus is on improving overarching levies processes and legislation. Industries will not be asked to re-submit levy proposals as part of this work.

What is the overall aim?

The department’s aim is to deliver more flexible, less complex, contemporary levies processes that support industries in optimising their levy investments and responding to changing circumstances; and are well-placed to adapt to the future needs of both government and industry over the longer term.

What is sunsetting?

Sunsetting is a process used by government to remove redundant legislation off the books. Sunsetting instruments must be reviewed to determine whether the instrument is still required and is fit for purpose. If it is, action is taken by government to retain the instrument. If not, the legislative instrument is automatically repealed after ten years. All legislative instruments (with some key exceptions) are subject to sunsetting. Legislative instruments include regulations, orders, determinations, declarations, proclamations, notices and rules.

How does sunsetting relate to levies?

Numerous levies-related legislative instruments were due to sunset for the first time between 2018 and 2022. The government decided to align the sunset dates of these instruments to 2023 to allow time for them to be reviewed concurrently. This means one review and associated consultation process with stakeholders, rather than 24 duplicative processes.

Can I cease or change my levy as part of this process?

No. If an industry wishes to change or cease collection of its levy, the usual processes apply—it should approach the department about preparing a proposal to government.

Should my industry wait for this work to finish before proceeding with a levy proposal?

No. This process may take a number of years and industries looking to establish or amend levies should therefore not wait for it to be completed. However, the department is interested in engaging with industries currently developing proposals to determine whether they can benefit from some of the potential changes now.

Are levy payer registers part of this process?

Levy payer registers are not the focus of this particular process. A pilot levy payer register project is being progressed separately and is expected to be completed by the end of 2017. It will be up to each RDC to decide, in consultation with industry, whether or not it wishes to establish – and pay for – a levy payer register.

Levy payer registers

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