Cattle Council welcomes levy payer register, stresses need for access for democratic work

James Nason, 08/07/2021

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.”

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  1. Rod Dunbar, 09/07/2021

    from my family’s perspective CCA is a political organisation and as such is not legally entitled to access the private information contained in the proposed database. MLA is a federal government agency and has access like any other government department. All goverment Depts. must comply with the Privacy Act and Principles attached to that Act which state private information can only be distributed to third parties of any database on the written consent of the entity who is the subject of the information.
    the Secretary needs to comply with this legal requirement,or as has been conveyed to the Dept, they will face proceedings in the federal court for injuntive releaf to maintain our information private.
    The comment by CCA re “democratic work” is an uninformed opinion; CCA simply do not have the membership or support to comand such a political position nationally and secondly if we are going to talk democracy then have a vote of the now identified CTL payers is obtain a true reading of support for or against paying the CTL at all, and/or what level if any the CTL should be set at.
    That would be true democracy!

    • Howard Starr, 09/07/2021

      Hey mate, you know CCA are our representatives to the Federal Government under law right? MLA is just there for R&D work. What could be more democratic than CCA asking us how to use levies, and I guess they’d also be able to ask us what the levy should be. The article says they want it to alert us if there’s a biosecurity emergency. If this is all they’re using this for, I reckon that’s a very good use of the register.

  2. Val Dyer, 08/07/2021

    Absolutely this information should be available to CCA. Levy payers can then have the choice to either reject or accept the role that CCA has in pursuing the best outcomes for cattle producers.

  3. Peter Vincent, 08/07/2021

    CCA should be entitled to use the data base for statistical purposes only. To permit access to individual records invites abuse of information held by a regulatory body which in this instance, is certainly not CCA.

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