Levy Reform Process

If you pay the nursery industry pot levy then this article will be on interest to you. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources are conducting a levy reform process aimed at increasing flexibility in the agricultural levy system. The process is being driven by three issues:

1. "Sunsetting" of levy instruments – now pushed out to 2023;

2. A recent Senate Inquiry in to levies; and

3. A recent review conducted by ACIL Allen Consulting on the levy system.

NGIA is the "Eligible Industry Body" representing the nursery industry to establish and change an industry’s levy. Attached is a diagram of the Levy Proposal Process that the Eligible Industry Body will work through. The Levy Reform Process is to determine if and how the levy proposal process can be made more flexible and efficient.

The DAWR has sought and received feedback on the following specific options for the levy process:

1. The content of a new, plain English how-to guide to preparing levy proposals

  • What part of the current process is most difficult to comply with? What kinds of supporting materials would be helpful? Where could the department best play a role?

2. Alternative ways that an industry could demonstrate support for some levy proposals

  • What alternatives to a ballot are there and what are the costs and benefits? Should there be different approaches to demonstrating support for establishing new levies versus changing an existing levy?

3. Approaches to increased flexibility for existing levies

  • What process is appropriate for changing the 'mix' within a levy without changing the overall rate? What is an appropriate process for agreeing and approving movements of levy funds identified as excess to requirements? How could any risks be managed?

4. Ways to streamline cumbersome legislative provisions, processes and timeframes

  • Would clearer, simpler and more consistent levies legislation be of benefit to your industry or organisation?

5. Approaches to delivering the government’s commitment to review the 'criteria' used by the department to advise the minister on the suitability of an industry body to be named in legislation, and to review all named bodies against the reviewed 'criteria' within five years.

  • What should the 'criteria' be? How could a review of industry bodies named in legislation be conducted to deliver value for levy payers?

The DAWR has advised there will be further opportunity for NGIA to provide feedback on this work. This is an ongoing process with delivery expected to take some years, as it will almost inevitably involve legislative amendment. The levy system is a partnership between government and industry and the department is keen to engage with NGIA as this work progresses.

Please advise if you have any comments or questions to ceo@ngia.com.au or if you require further information.