House of Representatives

Customs Tariff Amendment Bill (No. 3) 2000

Second Reading Speech

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

I move:

That the bill be now read a second time.

Customs Tariff Amendment Bill (No. 3) 2000 which is now before the House contains a number of amendments to the Customs Tariff Act 1995. Most of the amendments have been previously tabled in this House as customs tariff proposals and now require incorporation in the Customs Tariff Act. Therefore, I will only outline the major amendments at this time.

Schedule one is operative from 15 December 1999 and removes the customs duty on 268 nuisance tariff items.

Nuisance tariff items attract a duty of five per cent or less, each raise less than $100,000 in annual revenue and represent goods where there are few or no local producers.

These reductions in tariff rates lower business input costs which in turn enable Australian manufacturers to be more competitive in world trade.

Schedule 2 imposes an excise equivalent duty on imported chemical grade toluene, benzene, xylenes and mixed alkylbenzenes from 10 March 2000. The imposition of the duty on these products combats duty evasion through the illegal blending of petroleum products with toluene, a product which had not previously been subject to an excise equivalent duty.

The effect of these amendments is to close off this avenue of illicit activity. While there was no evidence that chemicals other than toluene were being used in fuel substitution activity, there was the potential for this to occur, particularly if this duty was not imposed.

Regulations and administrative measures have been implemented to ensure that legitimate users of these chemicals are not disadvantaged.

I commend the bill to the House and present the explanatory memorandum.

Debate (on motion by Mr Martin Ferguson ) adjourned.

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