Culinary herb and spice levy proposal defeated

The Australian Herb & Spice Industry Association (AHSIA) has today released the results of a levy ballot recently conducted on behalf of industry by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).

The ballot results for the three ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer questions are:
1. Do you support the ‘R&D levy’ proposal? – Defeated (68% no, to 32% yes).
2. Do you support the ‘Biosecurity levy’ proposal? – Defeated (57% no, to 43% yes).
3. Do you support the ‘PHA subscription levy’ proposal? – (Defeated 65% no, to 35% yes).

Australian Herb & Spice Industry Association President Robert Hayes said AHSIA is disappointed at the outcome of the levy ballot.

“The majority of culinary herb and spice producers who registered to vote, and who returned completed ballot papers, needed to support the levy proposal for it to pass and be eligible for consideration by the Australian Government,” Mr Hayes said.

“Unfortunately, a comprehensive nationwide consultation process funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) was interrupted by the federal election in 2010. AHSIA believes that there were a number of other negative factors during the lead up to the ballot, however, in the end we have been unable to persuade enough industry participants of the benefits of the proposed levies.

“We are now ‘back to the drawing board’ as an industry – with no immediate pathway to resourcing much-needed R&D.

“The industry is in the situation where individual growers will have to undertake their own expensive research.

“This is a particular concern in the area of pest, disease and weed control, where the cost of undertaking expensive research required to support chemical use permits, as issued by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), is significant. These permits require renewal by the regulator every few years, which without a coordinated industry R&D program, places them beyond the resources of all but the largest growers,” Mr Hayes said.

“Industry is also left exposed to the incursion threats posed by exotic pests and diseases, and without the resources to work with Plant Health Australia and Biosecurity Australia to build industry awareness and preparedness to deal with biosecurity threats.

“AHSIA will now review the situation and examine all available options to progress resourcing essential research and development, and biosecurity preparedness for the industry,” ended Mr Hayes.

For further information contact:
The Australian Herb & Spice Industry Association Ltd,
Secretariat, PO Box 45, Bundaberg Qld 4670
Ph: (07) 4153-3007
Fax: (07) 4153-1322