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Thursday, 21 October 1999
Page: 12210


Mr SLIPPER (10:29 AM) —I move:

That the bill be now read a second time.

This bill is designed to remove any doubt about the validity of certain decisions made by officers of the Australian Customs Service in relation to the Tariff Concession System.

The Tariff Concession System allows goods to be imported at a concessional rate of duty, essentially in circumstances where there are no local manufacturers of substitutable goods.

In November 1995, the Chief Executive Officer of Customs generally delegated his powers and functions in relation to the Tariff Concession System to certain officers of Customs.

In July 1996, the government made changes to the tariff concession system. Those changes resulted in amendments to the Customs Act, including the introduction of additional powers and functions.

New delegations were not sought for powers that were added to sections of the act which were already the subject of the November 1995 instrument. It was thought that that instrument was sufficient.

The validity of the delegations for the tariff concession system was questioned at a recent hearing of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

In light of this, the Chief Executive Officer signed two instruments on 31 May this year. The first revoked all existing delegations for the tariff concession system. The second issued new delegations covering all the powers and functions in relation to the tariff concession system.

Both instruments took effect on 1 June 1999.

Notwithstanding this action, it is possible that certain decisions and actions taken in relation to the tariff concession system subsequent to the 1996 changes to the act may not have been the subject of valid delegations.

Mr Speaker, this bill aims to remove any doubt about the validity of these decisions and actions, to the extent that they were taken in reliance on a delegation that may not have been valid.

The government has decided that the retrospective effect of this bill should not apply to certain matters before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal or to certain applications for refunds of customs duty, which had not been decided before 1 June 1999.

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