The regulatory regime for Australia's agricultural
exports needs to be both efficient and effective. Effective,
to ensure that Australian exported goods meet the high quality
standards for which our products are renowned. Efficient, to
ensure that Australian exporters can be competitive in
international markets, including emerging
The regulatory system at the moment is overly complex.
Currently, exports are regulated under 22 different Acts and
the further regulatory instruments made under those Acts.
In recognition of the current regulatory complexity, the
Commonwealth Government is in the process of reforming
Australia's agricultural export legislation.
The first phase of the reform process was completed in September
2015. During that phase, the Department of Agriculture consulted
with industry representatives, exporters, State governments, trade
partners and other stakeholders, to discuss the strengths of the
current legislative regime and how it could be improved. As part of
that consultation process, the Department released a discussion paper, and stakeholders were
invited to make
submissions on the paper. Following completion of this phase of
the process, in December 2015 the Government re-affirmed its commitment to improving export
The Commonwealth Government's intention is to develop a more
flexible and efficient regulatory regime. This will include making
the rules governing exports easier to apply, and introducing new
mechanisms to improve compliance and enforcement.
No draft legislation has been released yet, so the details of
the proposed reforms are not yet public. However, the Government
has indicated that the reforms will include the creation of a
simpler legislative structure for the regulation of exports by
creating a single set of requirements for exporters, which can be
applied flexibly depending on the commodity.
Another area that will be subject to reform is the Department of
Agriculture's oversight of the export supply chain. The
Government intends that the Department will retain this role, to
ensure importers maintain confidence in the integrity of the
exported products. Therefore, the Department will still be involved
with site inspections and audits, and in the issuing of
certificates that certify that regulatory requirements have been
met. However, the reforms will clarify the legislative provisions
related to these activities.
The Government has also indicated that the reforms will
introduce new enforcement tools, to strengthen compliance with the
export regulations. Authorized officers currently have a range of
powers with respect to monitoring, investigation and enforcement.
Mechanisms such as infringement notices, enforceable undertakings
and civil penalties will be introduced to provide additional
opportunities for enforcing export rules.
In addition to reviewing Australia's export legislation, the
Department of Agriculture is also undertaking reviews into its cost
recovery arrangements, livestock export certification, and the
allocation and administration of quotas. The results of these
reviews will be incorporated into the new export legislation.
According to the Government, the development of the improvements
to export legislation will take several years. It intends to
complete the reform process before 2020, when some delegated
legislation that currently regulates exports will expire.
Stakeholders will have more opportunities to have input into the
reform process as it progresses.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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