House of Representatives

Taxation Laws Amendment (Excise Arrangements) Bill 2000

Second Reading Speech

Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney - Minister for Financial Services and Regulation)

I move:

That the bill be now read a second time.

This bill amends the laws relating to excise in order to transfer the general administration of those laws to the Commissioner of Taxation from the Chief Executive Officer of Customs. Excise is an indirect tax-

Mr Lee -Wow! Who wrote that?

Mr HOCKEY -It is all my handiwork here. Excise is an indirect tax, and it is appropriate that the administration of excise laws be integrated with that of other taxation laws.

Administration of the 'off-road' Diesel Fuel Rebate Scheme, which provides a rebate of excise duty or customs duty for a qualifying use of diesel, mainly in the mining, agricultural and rail and marine transport sectors, is also to be transferred to the Commissioner of Taxation.

The 'off-road' scheme complements the 'on-road' Diesel and Alternative Fuel Grants Scheme, which has been administered by the commissioner since its introduction as part of this government's comprehensive reform of indirect taxes.

The bill contains amendments to excise, customs and taxation legislation to give statutory recognition to the administrative changes.

The amendments will ensure that officers currently authorised to exercise search and seizure powers for excise purposes will continue to have those powers. These relate to the search and seizure of evidential material and forfeited goods under a warrant issued by a magistrate.

In addition, the Excise Act will provide for forfeited goods seized by police officers to be dealt with in the same way as if the goods had been seized by excise officers. This particular measure will support the compliance improvement amendments enacted earlier this year to combat the trade in illicit tobacco.

The bill will also repeal redundant provisions in the Spirits Act 1906 and the Distillation Act 1901 which are inconsistent with modern industry practices and with current tax compliance verification methods.

Excise legislation will also be amended to adopt gender-neutral language, and to replace the maximum dollar amount of penalties stated for excise offences in accordance with the penalty unit standard specified by the Crimes Act.

Full details of the measures in the bill are contained in the explanatory memorandum. I commend the bill and present the explanatory memorandum.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stephen Smith) adjourned.