Hort takes control of levy structure

26 Nov, 2014 09:43 AM
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This is the beginning of a new era for horticulture

THE horticulture sector is set to decide its own future with a new industry services and export control body, Horticulture Innovation Australia Ltd (HIAL), taking effect this week.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said governance and funding arrangements underpinning the new body meant those who pay horticulture levies will have a direct say in how their money is spent.

The formation of HIAL was not without controversy, with the independent review criticising the performance of the industry organisation it replaced - Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL).

“This is the beginning of a new era for horticulture, with those who pay production levies to also become the owners of the new industry services body, as opposed to the previous governance arrangements in which the former industry services body was owned by 43 peak industry bodies,” Mr Joyce said.

“I am confident that this new model recommended by an independent review by ACIL Allen will deliver even greater transparency and accountability to levy payer owners and give them a real say in how their levy funds are invested as well as the outcomes they want to achieve for their industries.”

HIAL's launch comes in the middle of an ongoing levy debate between some of Australia's estimated 100,000 agricultural levy payers and the industry organisations that impose them.

“The levy system is a critical element in Australia’s research and development model. It is important to ensure it is operating efficiently and effectively, that is why I support the recently commenced Senate inquiry into levies,” Mr Joyce said.

“Many of the changes stemming from the HAL independent performance review are foundational and can happen separately to the inquiry.

“While I do not want to pre-empt any outcome of the inquiry, there is still scope to make additional changes to the horticulture levy system later on down the track.”

A Senate inquiry into agricultural levies was tabled in September and was due to report by November 24, but is currently still accepting submissions ahead of further hearings beginning this week, with a June 2015 reporting date.

Mr Joyce said the new body is being led by a highly skilled board of directors with a broad range of experience.

The new HIAL board contains five directors who previously sat on the HAL board. They are: HAL chairman Selwyn Snell, Qld; Rob Clark, Tas; David Cliffe, NSW; Stephen Morrow, Qld; and Mark Napper, NSW. These members will be joined by Ridley Bell, NSW; Susan Finger, Vic; David Moon, Qld; and Peter Wauchope, WA.

“I encourage all horticulture levy payers to get behind the new company and become members of Horticulture Innovation Australia Ltd,” Mr Joyce said.

- with Ashley Walmsley

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Of course Mr Birchnell would sing the praises of Cattle Council and MLA. Compulsory levies
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$1/lt milk's arrival came with a plan to deal with protesting farmers the customer comes 1st
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Let us not forget, especially for MG, that this is a co-operative and should we also claw back