House of Representatives

Customs Legislation Amendment Act (No. 2) 2002

Second Reading Speech

Mr Slipper (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration)

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Customs Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2002 contains amendments to the Customs Act 1901 and the Passenger Movement Charge Collection Act 1978.

The purpose of the bill is to make amendments to the anti-dumping and countervailing provisions of the Customs Act, an amendment to exempt air security officers from the passenger movement charge and minor and technical amendments to international trade modernisation elements of customs legislation.

The proposed antidumping and countervailing amendments have three major purposes.

The first is to provide greater clarity and certainty in respect to the treatment of 'economies in transition'.

The second will amend the provisions governing the processing of final duty assessment applications and calculation of refunds of dumping duties.

The third purpose will be to make amendments to more accurately reflect the provisions of the World Trade Organisation antidumping agreement.

Economies in transition are those that are moving from being centrally planned to a free market model.

While in transition, such economies are subject to provisions which enable Customs to inquire into the existence of price control in the market for those goods that are the subject of a dumping application.

Since the introduction of the 'price control' concept in 1999, it has become apparent that there is uncertainty as to whether this includes both direct and indirect forms of government control over prices.

To overcome the uncertainty it is proposed to replace the term 'price control' with 'price influence' as this more accurately reflects the Australian government's intention, as set out in ministerial guidelines issued in December 2000.

The bill will also introduce a clear requirement that exporters are to cooperate by providing the information necessary to assist in determining the presence or absence of price influence.

If an exporter either fails to provide the necessary information or provides less than adequate information then a recommendation will be made to the minister that a price influence situation be found to exist.

The amendments to the duty assessment scheme are to provide greater certainty and a more effective means of administering the scheme by inserting into the Customs Act discrete steps that will apply in screening duty assessment applications and in processing duty assessment applications after lodgment.

The new scheme will also allow Customs to reject or terminate duty assessment applications at several stages before or during the consideration of the applications.

Technical amendments of a minor nature will be made to the provisions on cumulation, accelerated review and continuation of dumping measures to bring Australia's legislation into conformity with the World Trade Organisation agreement.

The bill contains an amendment to the Passenger Movement Charge Collection Act to exempt air security officers who travel on an international flight for the purpose of enhancing the security of the aircraft from paying the passenger movement charge.

The final set of amendments in this bill addresses minor omissions in the Customs Act related to the Customs Legislation Amendment and Repeal (International Trade Modernisation) Act 2001. I commend this bill to the House and present the explanatory memorandum.

Debate (on motion by Mr Snowdon) adjourned.