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Thursday, 14 May 2009
Page: 3872


Mr COMBET (Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change) (10:26 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill, which is part of the legislative package to establish the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, is another of three technical bills which anticipate the possibility that the charge payable by a person to the Commonwealth for issue of an Australian emissions unit as the result of an auction, or for a fixed charge, is a tax within the meaning of section 55 of the Constitution.

The Commonwealth does not consider that these charges are taxes for constitutional purposes. However, the government has taken an approach of abundant caution, with the charges bills providing safeguards in case a court reaches a different view on this question.

Section 55 of the Constitution provides:

Laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation, and any provision therein dealing with any other matter shall be of no effect.

Laws imposing taxation, except laws imposing duties of customs or of excise, shall deal with one subject of taxation only; but laws imposing duties of customs shall deal with duties of customs only, and laws imposing duties of excise shall deal with duties of excise only.

This bill caters for the possibility that the charges I have mentioned are, in whole or part, a tax. In those circumstances, this bill imposes the charge, but only to the extent the charge is neither a duty of customs nor a duty of excise. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Billson) adjourned.