Cattle Council of Australia has welcomed news that Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) has started the development of a Levy Payer Register for cattle producers, but has also stressed that it is vital the register be made available for important democratic work on behalf of levy payers.
The Levy Payer Register is a database of the details of individuals and organisations who pay red meat industry-specific transaction levies – see more details in this earlier article.
As it is currently drafted in the legislation, ‘eligible recipients’ of levy payer information are Research and Development Corporations (RDCs – in the case of the cattle transaction levy that is MLA) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The ABS cannot establish a Levy Payer Register but can seek access to the data to perform any of its functions.
Once established, an RDC can use the levy payer information from their register for the specific purposes:
- to maintain a register of who has paid a levy and/or charge
- to maintain a register of persons eligible to vote in a poll conducted by, or on behalf of, the RDC
- to make public information of a statistical nature
- in performing its functions under law of the Commonwealth or under a contract or agreement with the Commonwealth
- to determine whether a person is or remains eligible to be a member of the RDC.
The legislation says levy payer information may not be used for purposes such as:
- agri-political activities
- increase the membership of an industry representative body
- an activity that would give a commercial advantage to a participant in the industry
- an activity unrelated to the function of the RDC.
Access to the levy payer information by a third party (ie, anyone outside of MLA) can only occur with the approval of the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture.
Asked by Beef Central for Cattle Council’s view on the introduction of the register for the cattle sector, CEO Travis Tobin said the council supported the concept of a levy-payer register for cattle producers and was pleased to see work underway.
However he also indicated that peak industry councils such as Cattle Council should be able to access their specific industry register for certain purposes.
“Cattle Council does not collect levies, but has a role in making sure they are used accountably,” Mr Tobin (right) said.
“The register would let us reach all producers, listen to what they want and better inform the people who spend levy funding.”
“It would let us contact all producers put at risk from a biosecurity incursion or residue issue, strengthening our traceability and maintaining our product’s quality and reliability.”
“MLA as the owner of the register would need to apply for Cattle Council to be granted access so we could use it for specific purposes.”
“It is vital the register is made available for this important and democratic work.”