House of Representatives

Customs Legislation Amendment (Application of International Trade Modernisation and Other Measures) Bill 2003

Second Reading Speech

Mr SLIPPER (Fisher - Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration)

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Customs Legislation Amendment (Application of International Trade Modernisation and Other Measures) Bill 2003 is an omnibus bill that contains amendments to the Customs Act 1901, the Customs Legislation Amendment and Repeal (International Trade Modernisation) Act 2001, the Customs Legislation Amendment Act (No. 1) 2002, the Import Processing Charges (Amendment and Repeal) Act 2002 and the Migration Act 1958.

The amendments in this bill clarify the operation of the legislation that implements Customs international trade modernisation, enhance Customs border controls and clarify cargo reporting requirements and calculation of Customs duties on alcoholic beverages.

This bill is cognate with the Import Processing Charges (Amendment and Repeal) Amendment Bill 2003.

The most significant part of this bill is the transitional arrangements for the handling of imports during the transition between the Customs legacy electronic systems and the new Integrated Cargo System.

The current legislation provides for no overlap in the operation of the two systems and assumes that transition occurs immediately upon turning off the legacy systems.

Consultation with industry has identified that the nature of the import business requires that there be a period of time for finalisation of import transactions commenced in the legacy system as well as early access to the Integrated Cargo System to allow for compliance with reporting requirements.

These amendments will ensure that importers can continue to operate during the transition without undue administrative burden or interruption to the flow of international trade.

The bill proposes amendments that deal with self-assessed clearance declarations.

A self-assessed clearance declaration is a new communication to be introduced with the Integrated Cargo System and applies to certain low value goods.

Information contained in the self-assessed clearance declaration enables the goods to be assessed by Customs and Quarantine for compliance with prohibitions and restrictions and collection of duties and taxes where required.

These amendments will provide certainty in how the electronic communication is processed and how the release of the goods is communicated to the owner.

The bill also proposes minor amendments concerning the import and export of goods which will clarify the operation of the international trade modernisation legislation.

The bill proposes amendments to the Customs Act to allow the minister to prevent the delivery of certain restricted imports into the Australian community, if the delivery of the goods is not in the public interest.

The provision would operate only in relation to imported goods that are already restricted by the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956. These are dangerous goods such as firearms.

The provision would allow the minister to detain the goods for a specified period, allow incremental release of the goods or allow the importer to re-export the goods.

If detention of the goods results in the acquisition of property, then compensation on just terms will be made.

It is expected that the power to detain goods in the public interest would be exercised by the minister only in limited or exceptional circumstances and the Prohibited Import Regulations would remain the principal means to prohibit or restrict the entry of goods into Australia. The power cannot be delegated.

The bill also clarifies record retention obligations, certain maritime powers in the Customs Act and the Migration Act, existing impoundment provisions and the charges payable in respect of in-transit cargo reports.

Finally the bill introduces a clearer basis for calculating duty on certain alcoholic beverages and also provides authority to vary the timing of outward manifest reports by regulation. I commend the legislation to the House and present the explanatory memorandum.

Debate (on motion by Ms Roxon) adjourned.