House of Representatives

Customs Amendment (Anti-dumping Commission) Bill 2013

Second Reading Speech

Mr Clare (Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for Justice and Cabinet Secretary)

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

Australia is a trading nation. Trade is the key to our success.

One of the things that can harm trade is dumping.

Dumping is cheating.

Where goods are dumped into our domestic market, it can hurt Australian industry, it can also reduce confidence in the whole trading system, and that is why it is important that you have a strong anti-dumping system that can make sure people play by the rules.

Last December the Prime Minister, the Minister for Industry and Innovation and I announced a package of measures to strengthen Australia's anti-dumping system. This $24.4 million package includes:

establishing a new Anti-Dumping Commission to investigate anti-dumping cases;
almost doubling the number of investigators working on anti-dumping cases-so that cases can be dealt with fairly and more expeditiously;
reforms to make the anti-dumping system more accessible for small and medium sized businesses; and
introducing stricter remedies against overseas producers who deliberately circumvent Australia's anti-dumping system.

This bill is the first step in the implementation of these important reforms.

Its purpose is to establish the Australian Anti-Dumping Commission.

The establishment of the Australian Anti-Dumping Commission, under legislation, is the primary recommendation of the review into Australia's anti-dumping and countervailing system led by the Hon. John Brumby, the former Premier of Victoria.

In July last year I asked Mr Brumby to provide me with advice on the best structure for administering Australia's anti-dumping system-based on consultation with Australian businesses, unions, stakeholder representative groups and experts in the anti-dumping field.

He contacted over 400 stakeholders as part of this review.

His report found that in the past 12 months the workload of the administration had almost tripled-as a result of economic conditions like the high Australian dollar, surplus product on world markets and increased competition.

Mr Brumby recommended that the government establish an anti-dumping commission-based in a major capital city-and increase the resources set aside for anti-dumping investigations.

This bill implements this important recommendation for structural reform.

It also recommended that additional resources be directed to anti-dumping investigations. That is exactly what we have done-boosting funding for anti-dumping investigations by $24.4 million over the next four years.

The additional funding means we will almost double the number of investigators working on anti-dumping cases.

The Anti-Dumping Commission will be principally located in Melbourne and it will commence its work in July this year.

The commissioner will report directly to the minister.

The commission will consist of:

the commissioner;
two senior executive staff, and
other staff, including the new investigators.

The Anti-Dumping Commission will be organisationally situated within Customs and Border Protection. This means that staff assisting the commissioner will continue to be officers of Custom. However, they will report to the commissioner.

The Brumby review weighed up the costs and benefits of different organisation models for an anti-dumping commission. It found this to be the best model.

This bill also amends the Customs Act to create the commissioner's role and offer legislative guidance to the commission's work:

the commissioner will be responsible for decision-making and other anti-dumping related functions that currently rest with the CEO of Customs and Border Protection.
this bill confers on the commissioner all of the powers contained in Part XVB of the Customs Act, currently exercised by the CEO.
the bill also sets out the terms and conditions of the commissioner's appointment including the term of appointment, disclosure of interests, outside employment, resignation and termination.
the bill does not change the responsibility of the minister for anti-dumping matters.
The recruitment process for the commissioner will be merit based. Advertisements will be published in the coming weeks.

I will appoint the Commissioner, for a specified period, not exceeding five years.

The bill also amends the Customs Administration Act to:

allow the CEO of Customs to delegate to the commissioner powers to disclose certain information to the extent those powers apply in connection with Part XVB of the Act; and
provide that the prohibition of disclosure of certain information will also apply to the commissioner.

Over the past 18 months, the government has brought to parliament four tranches of legislation to improve the anti-dumping system. These changes included:

introducing a new Review Officer panel to undertake merits based review of anti-dumping decisions;
introduction of an new anti-circumvention framework;
more closely aligning Australia's anti-dumping system with WTO obligations including by reflecting the full range of actionable subsidies;
requiring the minister to make decisions within 30 days of receiving an investigation; and
establishing in legislation the key stakeholder body-the International Trade Remedies Forum-to provide ongoing advice to government on future reform to the system.

These reforms represent the most extensive improvements to the anti-dumping system in a decade.

More reform is required.

In December when I announced the Anti-Dumping Commission and the extra resources for investigations I also announced we would:

remove mandatory consideration of the lesser duty rule in complex cases;
clarify the application of retroactive duties;
introduce a new review mechanism to reduce the complexity of the existing review processes and make them more effective; and
improve the infringement notice scheme to increase penalties and provide a more effective deterrent against importers making false or misleading statements in an attempt to circumvent duties.

I will introduce further legislation in the next sitting period to implement these reforms.

These reforms to the anti-dumping system are also part of the broader reforms to Customs and Border Protection that I announced late last year.

In December I announced the establishment of the Customs Reform Board made up of three distinguished Australians with expertise in law enforcement, corruption resistance and best practice business systems. The three members of the board are:

The Honourable James Wood QC-former Royal Commissioner of the NSW Royal Commission into the NSW Police Service;

Mr Ken Moroney AO-former Commissioner of the NSW Police Force; and

Mr David Mortimer AO-former CEO of TNT Limited, former Deputy Chairman of Ansett, former Chairman of Australia Post and Leightons Holdings.

The board will provide advice and recommendations to reform the structure, operations and culture of Customs and Border Protection-and oversee the implementation of these reforms.

This includes improvements to its business systems, its law enforcement capabilities and its integrity systems and culture.

The board met for the first time last Friday.

The establishment of a well-resourced and effective anti-dumping commission is an important part of this reform program.

It will deliver stronger protection for Australian industry against unfair competition from overseas-and help protect Australian jobs put at risk by products being dumped into Australia.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.