Levy Payer Registers

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​​What has changed?

In September 2016, the Primary Industries Levies and Charges Collection Amendment Bill 2016 (the Bill) was passed by both houses of Parliament. The Bill allows for the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to create levy payer registers and to pass on levy payer information to a Research and Development Corporation (RDC), at their request.

The legislation was introduced following the June 2015 a senate inquiry on ‘Industry structures and systems governing the imposition and disbursement of marketing and research and development (R&D) levies in the agriculture sector’.

What is a Levy Payer Register?

A levy payer register is an industry specific database of individuals and organisations who pay levies and/or charges.

Information collected in a levy payer register will include the levy payer’s name, address, contact details, Australian business or company number, the amount of levy or charge they paid and the commodity that the levy or charge was paid against.

About the levy payer register pilot

The department is conducting a pilot levy payer register with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

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Why conduct a pilot?

The purpose of conducting a pilot is to test the viability of the proposed mechanism for the collection of levy payer information that is intended to eventually be used for all leviable commodities.

A successful pilot will be an automated system that is digital by design and capable of collecting and storing levy payer information.

What is purpose of the pilot levy payer register?

The pilot is focused on how grain levy agents currently interact with the levy system, providing them an opportunity to shape the design of a system that fits in with their current processes.

Consultation with grain levy collection agents is an important step in delivering a pilot levy payer register, and will ensure levy payer information is collected in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

What is the timeline for the pilot?

The pilot levy payer register is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

What is the timeline for regulation?

Regulations that would compel the collection of levy payer information to the department is not in force.

The pilot will help inform the drafting of these regulations and is expected to begin in early 2018.

Who can contribute to the pilot?

If you are a levy collection agent that deals with grain commodities, you may be invited to contribute to the pilot.

The department has commenced targeted engagement with grain levy collecting agents and grain specific software providers.

Is my contribution mandatory?

No. While the department is interested to hear from as many people as possible, the process is completely voluntary.

How can I contribute to the pilot?

Grain levy collection agents can email their expression of interest to contribute to the pilot at Levy Payers.

About the collection of levy payer information

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Is the department using industry specific identifiers?

The use of unique identifiers will be resolved throughout the pilot.

What format can I provide the levy payer information?

Multiple channels will be made available for submitting levy payer data in various formats.

The more we know about how you submit information, the more tailored that channel may be.

Will I have to collect new information from my suppliers?

In many cases, levy and export charge collection agents already collect and hold levy payer information as required under the Primary Industries Levies and Charges Collection Regulations 1991.

About the use of levy payer information

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Who can access and receive levy payer information?

An eligible recipient, generally Research and Development Corporations (RDCs), can request for a levy payer register be implemented. Once built, the RDC will receive this information.

An RDC may also, in agreement with the Secretary of the Department, grant third party access to levy payer information to carry out authorised activities.

The department is developing guidelines for RDCs who wish to disclose information to a third party.

The department is bound by the Australian Privacy Principles and will have protocols in place to ensure that any personal information is kept confidential and only used for the purposes specified in legislation. Information about the department’s privacy policy.

What will levy payer information be used for?

An eligible recipient can use the levy payer information for the following purposes:

  • Maintain a register of who has paid levy and/or charge
  • Maintain a register of persons eligible to vote in a poll conducted by the eligible recipient
  • Publish aggregated and de-identified data of a statistical nature
  • Determine whether a person is, or remains eligible to be, a member or shareholder of an eligible recipient, and
  • Perform its functions under a law of the Commonwealth or under contract/agreement with the Commonwealth.

About reporting of levy payer information

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Who will pay for the IT developments needed to comply?

The department, in consultation with the relevant RDC, will work with industry participants to ensure that minimal cost burden is imposed on levy collection agents to establish a levy payer register.

Privacy and information governance

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Can I legally pass the requested information on under the Privacy Act?

Legislation that would require a person to pass on levy payer information to the department will be prescribed in the Primary Industries Levies and Charges Collection Regulations 1991. Information that would be collected under these provisions would also be authorised under the Privacy Act 1988.

Levies process reform

The department is delivering a work programme focused on improving how levies processes operate.

The scope of this work includes the processes, policy and legislation associated with research and development, marketing, residue testing, biosecurity and emergency response levies.

It does not include any consideration of changes to matching funding or the RDC model.

This work brings together a number of priority levies-related tasks, including:

  • Reviewing sunsetting levies legislative instruments
  • Implementing the government response to the Senate inquiry on levies, and
  • Exploring opportunities to improve the levy system based on feedback from stakeholders identified in recent scoping work.

The department expects that delivering this programme of work will take some years.

The aim is to deliver more flexible, less complex, contemporary levies processes that support industries in optimising their levy investments and in responding to changing circumstances. This will ensure that the levy system is well-placed to adapt to the future needs of both government and industry over the longer term.

The department is engaging with levies stakeholders, including research and development corporations and industry representative bodies, to discuss this work.

For further information please contact Levies Taskforce.

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Scoping work finalised

The department engaged ACIL Allen Consulting and Minter Ellison in June 2016 to conduct consultation with stakeholders and identify opportunities to improve the agricultural levy system.

The report is available on the website.