House of Representatives

Customs Tariff Amendment (Schedule 4) Bill 2012

Second Reading Speech

Mr Clare (Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for Justice and Minister for Defence Materiel)

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Customs Tariff Amendment (Schedule 4) Bill 2012 contains amendments to the Customs Tariff Act 1995 that will repeal and replace schedule 4 of that act.

Schedule 4 delivers a wide range of tariff concessions, which have the effect of reducing or removing the normal rate of customs duty that would otherwise apply. These concessions lower costs for businesses and individuals importing goods.

However, the current schedule 4 is complex and difficult for industry and importers to use. During 2010, the government announced a Better Regulation Ministerial Partnership to examine and simplify the tariff concession regime. Under this partnership, the relevant government departments-including Customs and Border Protection; Finance and Deregulation; and the then Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research-conducted a review of schedule 4.

The review included consultation with relevant government agencies, a public discussion paper and consultation with key industry bodies. The consultation process showed that stakeholders, especially business, support a more user-friendly tariff concession regime.

Significant recommendations of the review included removing items that are redundant or have no clear policy intent, consolidating items that have similar coverage and restructuring the schedule to place similar items together.

The schedule 4 bill that I have just tabled gives effect to those recommendations.

In addition, the revised schedule 4 formally incorporates the extension, to 31 December 2014, of the SPARTECA-TCF Scheme that relates to textile, clothing and footwear concessions for prescribed Forum Island countries. This extension was contained in Customs Tariff Proposal (No. 1) 2012, tabled in parliament on 16 February 2012.

The bill also contains consequential amendments to the Goods and Services Tax Act and related legislation. When enacted, the schedule 4 bill will result in a renumbering of the items in schedule 4. As the GST and related acts refer to existing items in schedule 4, the schedule 4 bill contains amendments to those acts to update those references.

When enacted, the schedule 4 bill will reduce the existing tariff concession schedule to around half the current number of items and improve its clarity and usability. However, the schedule 4 bill will preserve the scope of the various concessions and their concessional duty rates.

Debate adjourned.