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Thursday, 27 March 2003
Page: 13757

Mr TRUSS (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (10:06 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this bill is to amend the Export Control Act 1982 (the act) to:

(a) redraft part of subsection 11Q(5) as a consequence of the repeal of section 16 of the act by the Criminal Code Amendment (Theft, Fraud, Bribery and Related Offences) Act 2000; and

(b) amend section 23 to allow certificates issued in relation to goods for export to describe goods that originate from Christmas Island or from the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (the territories) as goods from those territories.

Section 16 of the act created an offence of making a false or misleading statement in declarations furnished for the purposes of the regulations. This offence was repealed and replaced by offences in the Criminal Code by the Criminal Code Amendment (Theft, Fraud, Bribery and Related Offences) Act 2000. This bill removes the reference to section 16 in subsection 11Q(5) of the act and replaces it with references to the relevant offences provided by subsection 137.1 `False or misleading information' and subsection 137.2 `False or misleading documents in the Criminal Code.

Section 23 is being amended as part of the government's preparation for the extension of the act, by regulation, to the territories. In its current form, section 23 would require that goods exported from the territories be certified as exports `from Australia'. However, as Australia's access to its international markets has been negotiated on the basis of its reputation for freedom from pests and diseases that exist in the rest of the world, including in the territories, it is important that certificates issued under the act can make a distinction between goods exported from Australia and goods exported from the territories. Accordingly, the amendment takes into account the significant difference in the pest and disease status between the territories and the rest of Australia by enabling certificates issued in relation to goods for export to identify whether the goods come from the territories or from the rest of Australia.

This amendment seeks to preserve the many international trade benefits that arise from Australia's unique pest and disease status while helping to create economic opportunities for the territories by providing exporters in the territories with the same framework for regulating their agricultural exports as that which applies to the rest of Australia. I commend the bill to the House and present the explanatory memorandum.

Debate (on motion by Mr Snowdon) adjourned.