House of Representatives

Excise and Other Legislation Amendment (Compliance Measures) Bill 2004

Second Reading Speech

Mr Ross Cameron  (Parramatta - Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer)

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill amends the Excise Act 1901 to improve compliance and administration arrangements.

The ATO is responsible for the high level of risk management required to protect the revenue and the excise legislation provides considerable controls to enable the ATO to ensure compliance with the law.

Diversion of goods delivered for exportation is a significant risk for excise revenue. However, movement of excisable goods for exportation may occur under the existing provisions without the permission of the ATO. Accordingly, the ATO is unable to apply to these goods the usual compliance and revenue protection measures that it is able to apply to all other movement of excisable goods.

The amendments in the bill ensure that ATO permission is required for delivery of excisable goods for exportation. The bill extends to the exportation of excisable goods the provisions that enable the duty equivalent to be called up where a person entrusted with excisable goods fails to keep the goods safely or cannot satisfactorily account for them.

Under this bill current provisions that regulate the movement of tobacco leaf will be extended to tobacco seed and plant and permissions relating to movement of these goods for exportation will be required.

This bill also extends the criteria that enable immediate destruction of seized forfeited goods. Currently goods must be perishable and a danger to public health. However, in most cases seized excisable goods and tobacco seed, plant or leaf do not satisfy both the perishable and danger to public health criteria. The seized goods may be perishable only without special storage arrangements, or may not be perishable but do not meet any relevant standards that would enable them to be returned to the market.

The amendments enable seized goods to be destroyed immediately where they are perishable or a danger to public health or safety or do not meet any applicable standards. The amendments provide for the use of evidentiary certificates in proceedings relating to those goods and extend the compensation provisions to include where the court is satisfied the grounds for disposing of the goods did not exist.

Finally, the bill amends the confidentiality provisions of the Excise Act to enable information about licences, permissions and remission of duty arrangements to be made available to a second person dealing with, or proposing to deal with, the goods covered by the licence, permission or remission documents.

The present confidentiality provisions prevent such information from being disclosed to a second person dealing with the goods. However, this information is at times a prerequisite for a second person to comply with the law. The amendments enable the information relating to licences, permissions and remission arrangements to be made available to a second person where it is considered necessary to ensure compliance with the excise legislation.

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.