The debate whether there can be AQIS reforms without the loss of the 40% rebate for export certification is not a chicken and egg issue, according to The Nationals Senator Ron Boswell.
The Senate last night voted to disallow a regulation that would have seen the abolition of the Government’s 40% contribution to export certification.
“The Government offered an extra $20 million for the one year reform process, but this was unsatisfactory and still would not have even covered transitional costs to the most affected industries,” Senator Boswell said.
“We were told by the meat industry that reforms would take at least 2 years to roll out and other industries said up to 5 years and so the extra money that was allocated until 2010 would not have been sufficient to aid industry to adjust.”
“Despite attempts by the government to throw money at the problem, the fundamental issue of export certification costs will only be solved by making AQIS operations more efficient.”
“It would have been a tremendous leap of faith by industry to place their trust in Government to honour a reform process when at no stage did the Minister Tony Burke sign off a single AQIS reform.”
“The important fact that has been lost in the whole debate on AQIS reforms is that the reforms by themselves save Government and industry money,” Senator Boswell said.
“The very suggestion by government that any reform process is linked to the loss of the rebate is simply the Rudd Government holding a gun to the head of industry. This is not a chicken and egg argument. The efficiencies can be put in place even though the rebate is still in place.”
“Government should be looking at efficiencies before they look at adding costs on to industry. There are so many glaring examples of AQIS costs being unreasonable for the service they provide.”
Senator Boswell said “registration fees for a Game Meat Abattoir that has risen from $0.00 to $50,580, which, according to the industry, in return they get a registration number held inside a filing cabinet.”
“The reason that we actually have a rebate system is because of the inefficiencies of government in its monopoly supply of export certification services.”
“AQIS is the monopoly supplier in some of our most important markets. They have to be because for a lot of products, markets such as Japan, USA and Korea will not accept our product unless it comes from a government inspector.”
“The exporter cannot pass any extra costs on to the global market, because international buyers will just go elsewhere. Instead those costs will be passed on to the producer who can ill afford the lost income.”
The Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) Chairman Gary Burridge told the Senate inquiry last week that, “industry has no way of off-setting the cost increases unless we pass them back to primary producers.”