National Livestock Identification System Tags Pricing
|About this Item||Subjects||Rural Industry; Cattle
||Speakers||Gay The Hon Duncan; Macdonald The Hon Ian
||Business||Questions Without Notice
||Commentary|| Supplementary question; National Livestock Identification Scheme: NLIS;
The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries. Will the Minister explain why Victorian farmers, at a subsidised rate, pay only $1.80 for each Allflex National Livestock Identification Scheme [NLIS] tag when New South Wales farmers are being forced to pay $2.60 for each of their subsidised Allflex NLIS tags—a difference of 80¢? Will the Minister explain this discrepancy when both Victoria and New South Wales entered into a partnership late last year on a joint tender process? I ask the Minister whether he is aware of the following comment made by the Victorian Minister for Agriculture, Bob Cameron:
This is a big saving ... It also compares favourably to the recently announced discount price in NSW.
Will the Minister match the Victorians?
The Hon. IAN MACDONALD: No. At this stage I will not be matching the Victorians. It is good to see the honourable member once again being so positive about the National Livestock Identification Scheme [NLIS]. Over the past two years he has been trying to chip away at this important trace-back system that is being rolled out nationally. The Government has made the decision to go ahead with it. New South Wales had a joint tender with Victoria—something that was announced some time ago. The cost in Victoria is $1.80 for each tag, plus a $10 handling fee for each order. The $10 fee for each order was adopted from the New South Wales arrangements.
This reduced price is as a result of lower cattle numbers. As the majority of Victorian cattle are already tagged, the subsidy can be spread over far fewer tags. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred only to those two figures without realising the incredible difference between what this Government is doing and what the Victorian Government is doing, which beggars belief. The honourable member should get his facts right. In Victoria NLIS tags are GST exempt. The New South Wales Department of Primary Industries is currently investigating the possibility of GST exemptions for this State—another advantage over the prices in Victoria.
The honourable member does not realise that our tag subsidies are significantly under the market in New South Wales—a fact that the farming community has overwhelmingly accepted. In future years I am sure there will be further inevitable decreases in the price of tags. That is the system that is in place in New South Wales. The price of tags in New South Wales is well under the market price. Honourable members should remember that Victoria is well on the path to achieving its NLIS goals.
The Hon. Duncan Gay: You are a thief.
The Hon. IAN MACDONALD: I am not a thief. Without a doubt the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is the most useless member of The Nationals who has ever held the position of Opposition spokesperson on agriculture. What happened to the talented people who were once members of The Nationals? I refer, for example, to the Hon. Robert Webster and to the Hon. Richard Bull who were both talented men. Ian Armstrong leaves the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for dead. People still think that Ian Armstrong is the spokesperson on agriculture. People in Artarmon recently asked me whether Ian Armstrong was still The Nationals spokesperson on agriculture. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition once again is trying to chip away at the NLIS as it is being rolled out in this State. He is trying at every point to frustrate this important trace-back system that will ensure our international customers continue to buy the best beef in the world.
The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I ask a supplementary question. In light of the Minister's answer today, does he recall his statement during a budget estimates hearing on Friday 25 February when he said that postage and handling costs were commercial in confidence? Can he explain why his Victorian counterpart disclosed that Victoria's and New South Wales' postage and handling charge was $10? Today the Minister said in this House that the charge was $10 but he told a budget estimates committee that he could not disclose that information because it was commercial in confidence. Why was he trying to mislead the budget estimates committee?
The Hon. IAN MACDONALD: That is blooming nonsense. This Government made an arrangement in relation to postage and handling. I was not compelled to talk about any of those issues at any point. However, because there has been further agreement between the parties we are able to talk about other things. There is nothing wrong with that whatsoever. The arrangement, which is with the rural lands protection boards, is a good one.