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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 810 asked in the Legislative Council on 13 August 2019 by Hon Robin Scott

Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on

AGRICULTURAL PRODUCE COMMISSION AMENDMENT BILL 2019

810. Hon ROBIN SCOTT to the Minister for Agriculture and Food:

Last week the minister outlined changes to support producers' committees under the Agricultural Produce Commission Act.

(1) The minister claimed that she got industry input into this policy. WAFarmers does not represent the pastoral industry in Western Australia. Who did the government consult outside WAFarmers before announcing these changes?

(2) Pastoralists already pay a substantial levy to Meat and Livestock Australia for marketing and research purposes. Will the functions of the new producers' committees not simply be a doubling up of existing functions?

(3) When the minister appoints the Agricultural Produce Commission, and producers' committees have to answer to that body, will the producers' committees be able to advocate effectively for pastoralists or is this a case of the foxes watching the henhouse?

Hon ALANNAH MacTIERNAN replied:

I thank the member for the question.

(1)–(3) This will be a complex structure of legislation, but I make it clear that it has never been the government's intention to include pastoralism in this process. The government is well aware of the position of the Pastoralists and Graziers Association—not that it necessarily represents the majority of pastoralists—but we are quite clear that there has not been any expression of interest from that sector to be included in this. We are proposing the removal of an exemption. The next step will be the description, under a regulation, of the industry that potentially will be the subject of a producers committee. I give the member a firm commitment that pastoralism will be excluded from the definition in the regulations so that that does not even come within the four corners. After we have put in broadacre cropping and associated livestock in the farming areas, a producer will then have to approach the commission and say, ''We want to do this.'' It then will have to go out to a vote of all those producers, and the majority of producers will have to vote in favour of it before a committee is established. That committee elected by the members will then go through a further process to determine whether it will include a levy. But it has not been the government's intention at all to include pastoralism in that. I am happy to give the member a commitment that the regulation will be phrased in such a way to exclude pastoralism.