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Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Page: 1493

Mr THISTLETHWAITE (Kingsford Smith) (20:42): We support this bill. Australia has strong ties with the rest of the world. Our location has allowed us to develop and enjoy particularly close links with other markets in the Asia-Pacific region. Regulating the flows of goods in and out of our country is a responsibility that Australia takes very seriously. A maintained focus on encouraging and assisting Australian businesses involved in international trade and protecting consumers, domestic industries and the environment from harmful and dangerous goods is vital to the future of our nation.

Imports in Australia reached $27.9 billion in August 2013, up from $27.7 billion in July. It is important to get the balance right when it comes to charging on incoming goods. The purpose of this bill is to amend the Import Processing Charges Act to increase the import processing charge levied on air, sea and post consignments with a value of $10,000 or more. Under the current legislation, an import processing charge is levied on consignments that have a customs value greater than $1,000. Consignments that are valued at $1,000 or less are currently exempt from import processing charges. The current rates of import processing charges will continue to apply to consignments above $1,000 and up to the value of $10,000, but it is for above that $10,000 threshold that there will be an increase.

It is estimated that 3.3 million import declarations will be lodged, and that 99 per cent of these import declarations are lodged electronically. There will be 3.3 million declarations in 2013-14 and 55 per cent of those relate to consignments valued at greater than $10,000. The bill provides a legislative authority for changing the structure of the charges that will be levied on air, sea and post consignments, which will be reflected in the amended Import Processing Charges Act.

Customs control imports of goods into Australia and, in particular, they manage prohibited or restricted items and the interception of illegal and potentially harmful goods, such as drugs, weapons and computer games. The current import processing charges recover only the commercial aspects of cargo and trade related activity. This bill will broaden the cost base of the import processing charges so that all of the Customs and Border Protection Service costs associated with cargo and trade related activity, including community protection costs, are recovered.

Import processing charges have not been increased since 2005-06. The former, Labor government recognised the importance of bridging this gap in cost recovery and seeing the industry contribute to a greater degree to the costs associated with the delivery of goods into Australia. It is anticipated that implementing the previous government's revenue measures will generate an estimated $674.3 million across the forward estimates. A delay in introducing this legislation will have a financial impact of approximately $15 million per month and, on that basis, we commend the bill to the House.