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Use of Levy Payer Information

How will the meat and livestock levy payer information be used?

The core purpose of levy payer registers is to enable research and development corporations, in this case MLA, to better understand and communicate with levy payers.

Establishing a Levy Payer Register allows the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) to provide levy payer information to MLA, ultimately allowing MLA to know who their levy-payers are, for enhanced levy payer engagement. The Register will allow MLA to understand where their levy dollars come from and consult directly with producers (fulfilling a statutory obligation to consult with levy payers), as well as better inform research and development decisions, projects and extension work – this is the intent of this legislation.

MLA recommends reviewing About the use of levy payer information and Privacy and governance sections of the DAFF website for details of permitted uses.

Who will have access to the register?

The legislation around who can access information in the register and what that can be used for is very specific. As it is currently drafted in the legislation, ‘eligible recipients’ of levy payer information are the research and development corporations (in this case MLA) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The ABS cannot establish a levy payer register but it can seek access to the data to perform any of its functions.

Once established, MLA can use the levy payer information from their register for the following 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 MLA
  • to make public information of a statistical nature
  • in performing its functions under a law of the Commonwealth or under a contract or other agreement with the Commonwealth
  • to determine whether a person is or remains eligible to be a member of MLA.

Access to the levy payer information by a third party (that is anyone outside of MLA) can only occur with the approval of the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. In making an approval, the Secretary must take into account whether the proposed use of levy payer information fits into one of the above permitted uses under the legislation. 

Levy payer registers have been created to allow research and development corporations (RDCs) to consult with their levy payers to help them deliver the functions and services for which they were established. The RDCs functions are set out in the legislation that establishes them and in statutory funding agreements with the Commonwealth. As such, levy payer information may not be used for purposes such as:

  • agri-political activities
  • increasing the membership of an industry representative body
  • an activity which would give a commercial advantage to a participant in the industry
  • an activity unrelated to the function of the RDC.

For more information around who can access a levy-payer register and what the information should be used for, the Department has developed guidance for RDCs.