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Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Page: 3382

Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (11:23): It is always good to follow on from my parliamentary colleague the shadow minister for innovation, industry and science—who, I might add, was in Wagga Wagga on 11 April at a manufacturing forum with business leaders of the region discussing their problems, their concerns and their issues. It is always important that parliamentary secretaries, shadow ministers and indeed ministers hear the words from the mouths of those business leaders who—let's face it—are the engine room of the Australian economy. The National Measurement Amendment Bill 2013 might not sound important in the scheme of things but indeed it is, because, as consumers, we need to know, when we go to the supermarket or when we go to a hardware store, that what we are purchasing is in fact the right size and does in fact weigh the right amount. It is very, very important.

This bill makes a series of uncontroversial changes to the National Measurement Act 1960 to correct deficiencies identified during the first two years of operation of the national trade measurement system. The amendments will provide discretion for trade measurement inspectors to permit measuring instruments which do not meet the strict requirements of the act to remain in use for a limited time of up to 28 days, provided there will be no material detriment to any affected person, generally the consumer. It will introduce a new offence to ensure trade measurement inspectors can access business vehicles to undertake inspections in accordance with the intent of the legislation; clarify the offence of not obliterating an existing verification mark if an instrument is repaired or adjusted in such a way as would affect its performance; clarify the definition of 'use for trade' to include instruments which may be used to determine a tax, regardless of whether it is the imposition of a tax or determination of a tax credit; ensure that where goods are purchased based on measurement the purchaser either can see the result of the measurement or is provided with a written statement identifying the actual measurement; make other minor and technical amendments to facilitate the working of the act; and importantly, and finally, allow trade measurement inspectors to carry out investigations in public areas without first announcing their presence to the proprietors of the business.

On that last point I add a word of caution. We have seen all too often in the past that sometimes people—bureaucrats, even, dare I say, union officials—could barge into businesses and workplaces around the country and halt production in order to carry out their business. Often this was with good intent, but all too often we saw business people's production stopped and people downing tools because these people were on their premises without the business owner's knowledge. I air a word of caution that that provision of this bill will need to be spelt out very correctly and finely in the final detail of the bill to ensure that we do not see bureaucrats, bovver boys and people without good intent coming into business places and stopping production just to ensure that they tick their boxes and fill out their time sheets to make sure that they are doing what they are doing. We need to make sure that businesses are advised and are aware. Obviously, we cannot afford to have dodgy businesses and dodgy operators selling people materials that are underweight or under measure, but we certainly need to ensure that business is able to carry on with the great job that it does on behalf of this nation.