We are working to streamline and modernise the agricultural levies and charges (levies) legislation.
To date, $7.2 million has been provided to modernise the legislation which will ensure it meets Australia’s primary industries’ needs now and in the future.
Modernised levies legislation will:
- reduce complexity and inconsistencies in the current legislation
- make changes to levy settings in the legislation simpler in the future.
Why we are making changes
The current legislative framework has grown over time it has become more complex, making it difficult to understand and comply with.
Twenty-four levies-related legislative instruments are due to sunset in April 2023.
Sunsetting is an automatic repeal process under the Legislation Act 2003. Sunsetting ensures that legislative instruments (regulations and rules) are updated and only in force for as long as needed.
We reviewed sunsetting instruments and the overall legislative framework in 2017-18. The review found that the legislative framework:
- serves the objectives of the levy system, and
- is necessary to the successful industry-led arrangement.
Despite this, the review also found it is no longer efficient enough to meet industries’ needs.
What is changing
The new legislation will include fewer Acts and instruments, with simpler and more consistent terminology.
The scope of this work includes modernising the legislation associated with levies on:
- research and development (R&D)
- membership to biosecurity organisations - Animal Health Australia or Plant Health Australia
- biosecurity responses
- residue testing
Operational provisions will be in the subordinate legislation rather than the Acts. 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’s commitment to matching funding for eligible R&D is not under consideration, however the legislative provisions will be streamlined and simplified.
If you want to establish or change a levy, you need to submit a proposal to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Don’t wait until the new legislation starts. Follow the Levy guidelines: How to establish or amend agricultural levies.
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 system:
- 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 collected on more than 75 commodities across the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors.
We are responsible for collecting levies on behalf of industry. We also pay out the levy funds to levy recipient bodies. The levy recipient bodies include:
- 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 options for increasing flexibility in the levy processes. Most of the feedback supported changes to the legislation.
In 2019-20, we published the ‘Streamlining and modernising agricultural levies legislation - early assessment regulation impact statement’. The survey on the Have Your Say website asked for feedback on:
- 2 options for future agricultural levies legislation
- the incorporation of powers prescribed in the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014
- 2 potential minor policy proposals to amend the calculation of the 0.5% Gross Value of Production (GVP) limit and remove the total levies limit.
We held further consultation with industry representative bodies and RDCs in 2021 and 2022.
There will be opportunities for you to have your say on the draft legislation in 2023. Further details will be made available on the department’s website.
Your feedback will help us inform the new legislation.
To find out more about how we are modernising levies legislation, email:leviestaskforce@agriculture .gov.au.
If you have any questions about levies and charges, your levies account or how to lodge your return, please contact the Levies Helpdesk at levies.management@agriculture .gov.au or call the helpdesk on 1800 020 619.