When the City Plays Policy Sport with
A viewpoint on the game board involving
the most wide-sweeping changes and set of fees & penalties
ever to be imposed on livestock and horse owners by any State Government in
Horse SA, 2011 www.horsesa.asn.au
The Department charged with feeding & clothing our people
(PIRSA) was directed by past Treasurer Kevin Foley, to take a staggering 39%
budget cut. That’s $20 M per year, for four years, out of a total budget of
$133 million. Painful.
Fees are raised, regional offices closed, redundancies taken and
services closed, remodelled or combined. (Let’s not mention the forward selling
of the state forest assets for the next 100 years.)
With most of the state’s population (and relevant voters) living
between Seaford and Mawson Lakes, who is to notice? As long as the supermarkets
stay open with shelves full of discounted local produce there are few voices that
are raised in alarm.
Plant and animal health services combined into a new “Biosecurity
SA” – lauded as a “one-stop-shop”. Of course, the directive being that it
needed to pay for itself. The only Department for Primary Industries in
Australia that is directly asking livestock owners to back fill a budget cut in
order to provide core business services.
The policy game commenced with the first throw of a regulation to
mandate the registration of all properties housing one or more livestock. Yes,
one lawn mowing sheep or more means that from the first of January 2011 a landholder
is now required by law to register for a Property Identification Code (PIC)
The curveball being it went straight to Parliament without a full
public consultation process, it is the highest fee of its type in Australia and
although various states loosely agree to bring in the PIC, is not part of a
nationalised scheme. Disease or natural disasters of course, know no boundary
In February 2011, Horse SA with direct support from a wide range
of members including Pony Club and Equestrian SA, visited many politicians,
wrote letters and supported media articles to appear, in order to oppose the
introduction of a fee associated with the PIC.
The PIC itself is supported, but the fee was not. Should a fee be
introduced, it was uncapped and provided the mechanism for future additional
Independent MP Robert Brokenshire moved to disallow the PIC. It
did not get a sporting guernsey. The process of the disallowance however,
allowed for public debate which was as close to an inquiring consultation those
landholders would get.
Debate in Parliament and in Estimates noted the PIC fee ($76 every
second year) would be followed in due course by the planned “Biosecurity Levy”
aimed at recovering an additional $4M per year from landholders with livestock.
What seemed a small impost now would most certainly escalate. A “Red Card” warning for sure.
but significant regulatory change opened a crack in the door for the most
wide-sweeping changes and set of fees
ever to be imposed on livestock and horse owners by any State Government in
Biosecurity SA is now in a one month consultation period for these
severe additional revenue measures. Several documents to be read by amateurs are
already proving not to give a sporting chance of being understood in the short
timeframe allowed- if at all.
The scoreboard summary reads:
The PIC, originally regulated to be invoiced
to landholders every two years now changes to an annual invoice. A projected
cost of the PIC in three years’ time is not provided.
An introduction of a fee for re-registering
late joins that of failing to notify of change of address.
The knockout goal -
An introduction of a “Head of Power”
associated with the Property Identification Code (PIC)
The new power enables every PIC number to be
potentially used to collect the new “Biosecurity (SA) Levy”- reworded by PIRSA
to an “animal health fund fee”.
New levels of penalties are introduced, so
that it becomes a recordable offence of up to $10,000 find for failure to
register or pay.
4. Whist a
community based committee suggested that properties of
20 animals or more would
be exempt from the Biosecurity (SA) Levy, PIRSA has now recommended properties 10
animals or more are now to pay. Whilst
the legal ability exists to collect from every property with an allocated PIC,
then pressure can be expected from lobby groups for this to occur.
A rate of $125 per eligible horse- only
property (10 or more) is suggested, with an unchanged PIC fee added would be
$167 per annum.( It is hard to understand the papers, but this is what it
For properties that run horses and sheep or
cattle, the fee is proposed to be charged against the animal type with the
highest number kept, so if you keep more sheep, then the annual proposed
Biosecurity Levy-fee is $72 per property. Goats & alpacas come in at $144
What do horse owners get?
Primarily surveillance. The explanatory
papers are written in broad terms, covering all main species, however the horse
industry does not regularly access all of these services.
A study of staff time and tasks has been undertaken as part of
preparing information for the introduction of fees. For the horse owners, a 0.43 of a Full Time
Equivalent (FTE) position allocated to surveillance (less than half-time). The
initial ACIL Tasman study showed that there were no staff allocated
specifically to disease control or regulatory compliance. A new chart appearing
in the current papers shows 3.5 total staff in “non-field positions”. Horse SA
is seeking clarification on who/ what these positions are.
With 81 horses dying nationally of mozzie disease, Hendra and
related threats, is .43 enough? If you want more, you will need to pay.
The warning cards are still being held up, with Horse SA seeking
clarification on many aspects, including
The fees are not capped. They will rise with
CPI, operational costs and “other associated expenses” silence appears on what if more $ is
collected than is needed?
Projected costs for the next 3 yrs are shown
in many charts, but not what a landholder might be paying for a basic PIC fee.
Moving from a $76/every two year administration to an annual administration
activity would not come without costs
Another chart is required to demonstrate if,
in three years, we are or are not going to be paying for animal welfare and
other core business activities which ACIL Tasman indicated should not be cost
recovered as they are for public good.
And importantly, pressure will strongly continue to be applied to
the horse industry to establish our own additional
animal health fund as required by the
Livestock Act. Pay and pay again.
There are of course, many more questions of which Horse SA has
sought further clarification.
needs to be noted that representatives from other animal industry groups
(cattle, dairy, sheep, pig, alpaca, deer) do not support the introduction of
the new fees.
do you think? Submissions close Friday 7 October, 2011.
owners are strongly encouraged to take an active interest in these new fees and
Here is the link:
in key aspects vs the main paper. Make sure all of your assumptions are
clarified and double checked.
It would be appreciated if a copy of your submission can also be
sent to Horse SA: Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Horse owners and organisations can also write directly to the
umpires (Members of Parliament) in addition to a submission. A formally
structured email is acceptable. A follow up phone call is recommended.
The Hon. Michael O’Brien MP,
Minister for Agriculture & Fisheries
Mr. Adrian Pederick
MP, Shadow Portfolio Agriculture email@example.com
and the members of the Upper House
Game. Set and no Match.
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