House of Representatives

Petroleum Excise Amendment (Measures to Address Evasion) Bill 2000

Second Reading Speech

Mr McGauran (Minister for the Arts and the Centenary of Federation)

I move:

That the bill be now read a second time.

The amendments proposed in the troleum Excise Amendment (Measures to Address Evasion) Bill 2000 improve the government's ability to address excise evasion occurring through fuel substitution.

This bill facilitates prosecutions for fuel substitution offences by removing some technical difficulties with the legislation and allowing use of evidentiary certificates in prosecutions.

This bill also ensures that a broader range of imported products that can be used in fuel substitution activities, such as imported chemical grade toluene, are covered by this legislation. The record keeping provisions of the fuel substitution legislation are also extended to cover these products.

Special provisions in the Excise Act 1901 allow changes to the excise tariff to be made by gazetting a proposal or tabling a proposal in parliament.

Over time specific tariff items have been included in a variety of legislation. These references restrict the government's ability to quickly amend the tariff by gazettal or proposal.

As some forms of excise evasion through fuel substitution occur when parties systematically exploit weaknesses in the excise tariff structure, any restriction in the government's ability to quickly amend the tariff is a restriction on the government's ability to quickly address fuel substitution.

This bill removes those specific tariff items and replaces them with generic descriptions.

These changes do not affect the way excise is levied or impose an additional excise liability they simply give back to the government the power to quickly amend the tariff to protect the revenue.

Full details of the measures in this bill are contained in the explanatory memorandum.

I commend the bill and present the explanatory memorandum.