Wednesday 31 October 2012

Hansard of the Legislative Council



Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - This bill is to amend the way the Poppy Advisory Control Board levy is paid, saving initially $650 000 a year and eventually the full $700 000 cost of the board. If the government is worried about the expenditure of $200 000 on a community guided statutory authority like Tasmania Together, it is understandable it is more worried about the $650 000 to $700 000 cost of the Poppy Advisory Control Board.

We are told the bill is introduced at a time when the state government is under considerable financial stress. It has been proposed that the levy now be imposed on the three licensed processors, and based on the number of hectares harvested for each manufacturer. On the surface, Madam President, that seems reasonable, however, the importation of material to supplement the amount of local poppy straw available to make concentrate, clouds the issue. Poppy Growers Tasmania pointed this out and submitted that any levy should apply to processing manufacturers without reference to farm area.

The chief executive officer of the PGT, Keith Rice, in his letter to me dated 24 October 2012, said:

Our opposition to the above mentioned Bill which will shortly come before the Legislative Council is predicated on the fact that PGT believe the Bill should be opposed until such time as the Government has completed a review of the PACB and developed a position paper on the functions and operational activities of the PACB and a funding model based on the recommendations arising from such a review.

I see you are nodding and wondering whether this is a second reading speech, Madam President.

Madam PRESIDENT - You are reading my mind.

Mr FINCH - I am just reinforcing my argument. No-one would argue against the concept of 'user-pays' in this case, but I believe that Poppy Growers Tasmania has a case when it argues for a complete review of the PACB before introducing the new levy. Therefore I am supporting the adjournment of the debate so this can be further considered.