Bread Repeal Bill
|About this Item||Speakers||Whelan Mr Paul
||Business||Bill, First Reading, Second Reading
BREAD REPEAL BILL
Bill introduced and read a first time.
Mr WHELAN (Ashfield - Minister for Police) [5.27]: I move:
As honourable members will be aware, in April of this year, the Heads of Government of all of the States, Territories and Commonwealth agreed to implement jointly a national competition policy package. This historic decision commits the New South Wales Government to a range of initiatives including a requirement to review and, where appropriate, reform all legislation that restricts competition. Governments across Australia have also indicated concern about inconsistencies in the treatment of occupations which are regulated in some but not all States and Territories. Such inconsistent treatment is seen as working against the achievement of a single national market for services through a policy of mutual recognition.
At the meeting of Premiers and Chief Ministers held in November 1991 it was agreed that registration of all partially registered occupations - that is, those occupations which are registered or licensed in some but not all States and Territories - should be removed unless there is overwhelming evidence for retention. The Premiers and Chief Ministers sought a review of those occupations and concluded that the key criterion for deciding to remove registration requirements was an assurance that self-regulation would not pose a risk to public health and safety. The category of baker is one such occupation specifically recommended for deregistration under a national review conducted by the Vocational Education Employment and Training Advisory Committee - VEETAC - working party on mutual recognition. Moreover, being a government firmly committed to removing unnecessary business impediments an internal review of legislation administered by the Department of Industrial Relations has concluded that the whole of the Bread Act 1969 is indeed appropriate for repeal. Hence the bill now before the House, the Bread Repeal Bill. In introducing the Bread Bill in 1969 the then Minister for Labour and Industry, the Hon. Eric Willis, succinctly observed:
That this bill be now read a second time.
With this thought in mind it is clear to the Government that what remains of the Bread Act, after earlier legislative amendment exercises, is either redundant or simply out of kilter with the necessary microeconomic reform advances of the 1990s. The area of the Act of most current significance is part 3, which governs the issuing of operative bakers certificates and bread manufacturers licences. Consultation between the Department of Industrial Relations and the Australian Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union; the Chamber of Manufactures of New South Wales; and the Baking Industry Association of New South Wales has resulted in general agreement that bread manufacturers licences have become redundant following deregulation of hours, the abolition of bread zoning and the regulation of bakeries under provisions concerning bread in the food standards code operating under the Food Act 1989.
As put to the Government in representations received from the Chamber of Manufactures of New South Wales, the continuation of bread manufacturers licences does little but identify the number of manufacturers in the industry. Only 752 licences, renewable annually at $20, are currently in force. I impress upon honourable members that this figure does not reflect the large number of bread manufacturers, including small hot bread shops, supermarkets and in-store bakeries, operating in the State. A clear trend towards smaller bakeries failing to apply for licences is evident. In summary, the administration of bread manufacturers licences represents an unnecessary cost to the Government. It would appear that the enforcement of these provisions would not benefit the industry, the Government or the public. Certainly, the relevant department no longer has any practical use for the statistical information acquired. Section 13 of the Bread Act concerns the issue of operative bakers certificates. A certificate is issued to a
person who is fit and proper and who has either completed an apprenticeship or TAFE examinations, or possesses the prescribed qualifications, being four years on-the-job experience as an operative baker.
A total of 2,562 non-renewable certificates are currently in force. Of these a mere 39 have been applied for in the last 18 months. It will be evident to all honourable members that there is a tendency for industry to disregard this particular requirement of the Act. It is no surprise that the key industry parties are in agreement that there is no longer any need to retain operative bakers certificates, especially in view of the recent introduction of a uniform national competency-based training course through the TAFE system. However, the abolition of a particular New South Wales certificate for bakers will most importantly mean that there will, in the future, be no barrier to labour mobility in that occupation across Australia.
During the last decade major changes have taken place in the bread industry. These include legislative deregulation of bread baking and delivery times, the disappearance of zoning restrictions in relation to bread sales, repeal of standard weights requirements in respect of loaves of bread, and the cessation of operation of the Bread Industry Advisory Committee, which was set up by legislation to deal with industry issues. Given these advances, it is simply archaic to retain the skeletal provisions of the Act relating to ministerial directives governing the sale of bread in rural areas and bread manufacturers possibly being tied to ingredient suppliers.
This situation regarding the present utility of the Bread Act is in general due to industry rationalisation, changes in consumer demand emphasising the availability of daily fresh bread in a diversified range and government initiatives linked to progressive deregulation. It is an interesting historical point that in his second reading speech in 1969 the Hon. Eric Willis remarked that "bread has been the subject of legislation since Governor Macquarie's day". In recognising that the combination of national competition policy, uniform national training standards, modern manufacturing methods in the baking industry and consumer forces have resulted in 1995 in a clear case for the removal of legislative control over this important commodity, we are witnesses to the end of an era.
What the Bread Repeal Bill does most forcefully is to deliver on the Heads of Government microeconomic reform promises. The bill will remove existing legislation which is simply unnecessary - unnecessary both in regard to continuing occupational and business licensing requirements and in relation to archaic regulatory provisions within an industry in which market forces should be allowed to rule. Balanced and well-informed regulatory reform is a vital part of the national effort to improve Australia's competitiveness. However, let me state most emphatically that clumsy and, in a modern context, irrelevant forms of government intervention, such as is now the case with the Bread Act, are to be retired. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Kerr.
Legislators should keep themselves constantly aware of the ever changing processes and activities of society and be willing and prepared to review legislation in the light of changing circumstances.