We are working to streamline and modernise the agricultural levies and charges (levies) legislation. A modernised package of levies legislation is expected to:
- reduce complexity and inconsistencies compared with the current legislation
- make changing to levy settings in the legislation simpler in future.
There is an opportunity for you to have your say on the draft legislation when surveys open in May 2023. To find out more visit Have Your Say.
Why we are drafting changes
The current legislative framework has grown over time, and become more complex, making it difficult to understand and comply with. In 2017-18, we conducted a review of the agricultural levies legislative framework. The review found that the legislative framework:
- serves the objectives of the levy system, and
- is necessary to the successful industry-led arrangement, but
- is inconsistent, difficult to understand and has some redundant instruments.
What is changing
We propose to make the draft legislation simpler to follow and provide more consistent terminology.
The scope of this work includes modernising the legislation associated with levies for:
- research and development (R&D)
- membership of biosecurity organisations - Animal Health Australia or Plant Health Australia
- biosecurity responses
- residue testing
We propose to put operational provisions in the subordinate legislation (rules or regulations) rather than the primary Bills. This includes:
- levy rates
- detail of when returns are due
- record keeping requirements.
What is not changing
We will not be changing individual levy settings, as they are for industry to decide. The focus is on improving the legislation overall. Similarly, the government continues to be committed to matching funding for eligible research and development (R&D) activities. However the draft legislative provisions will be streamlined and simplified.
If an industry would like to establish or change a levy setting, they should submit a proposal to the Minister following the instructions and principles set out in the Levy Guidelines.
Background on levies legislation
Levies are imposed on all producers, processors and exporters in an industry, at the request of that industry. Levies support investment in activities that maintain and strengthen industries’ productivity and position in international markets.
The levy system is enabled by a legal framework. The agricultural levy legislation:
- imposes statutory levies
- governs the collection of levies
- enables the investment of funding in activities on industries’ behalf.
There are currently more than 110 levies and charges collected on over 70 commodities across the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors.
The department is responsible for collecting levies on behalf of industry. We also pay out the levy funds to levy recipient bodies. The 18 levy recipient bodies include:
- 15 research and development corporations (RDCs)
- Animal Health Australia
- Plant Health Australia
- National Residue Survey (within the department).
The levy system is a long-standing partnership between industry and government.
To help us modernise levies legislation, it is important for us to hear from people who interact with:
- levies legislation
- activities that the levies fund.
In 2017, we consulted with industry stakeholders on levy processes. Most of the feedback supported changes to the legislation.
In 2019-20, we consulted on the ‘Streamlining and modernising agricultural levies legislation - early assessment regulation impact statement’ via a Have Your Say survey.
In 2021-22 we consulted with industry representative bodies and RDCs to understand their needs and indicate how we were proposing to modernise the legislation.
To find out more about how we are modernising levies legislation, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions about levies and charges, your levies account or how to lodge your return, please contact the Levies Helpdesk at email@example.com or call the helpdesk on 1800 020 619.