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Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Page: 8778


Mr CLARE (BlaxlandMinister for Home Affairs, Minister for Justice and Minister for Defence Materiel) (18:30): I would like to thank members who spoke in this debate and I thank the opposition for their support for this legislation. This is the fourth and final bill implementing the reforms to Australia's antidumping system which were announced by the government in June last year.

The bill does three things. First, it will better align Australia's antidumping and countervailing system with those of our WTO counterparts. Second, it introduces provisions designed to address the circumvention of trade measures. These important amendments establish for the first time a mechanism for Australian industry to apply to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service for an inquiry into business practices that are designed to avoid the payment of dumping or countervailing duties. Third, it strengthens our system's ability to address parties' noncooperation during the investigation process. It also makes a number of other minor corrections to part XVB of the Customs Act 1901.

This is the fourth and final bill imple­menting the government's Streamlining Australia's Anti-Dumping Policy. That policy was released by the government in June. It has been interesting to hear the contributions of members opposite, who put together their own policy and released that some five months later, in November last year, and now, suddenly, apparently the government is adopting their policies. Their policies were released five months after ours and this legislation implements the policies that we have released and announced. It is a peculiar sort of logic and it is an interesting rewriting of history.

The combined effect of these four bills represents the most extensive improvements to our antidumping system in a decade. But more can be done to ensure that the system can respond to new and emerging trends. My friend the member for Blair made reference to one of those. I made the point in my second reading speech that sales at a loss aimed at avoiding the effect of our antidumping system, which is an issue that has been brought to my attention by Mr Jobe, the CEO of Capral, is one of those issues I am looking at closely—it is one of a number of areas. I have made it clear that if I believe it is necessary I am prepared to take more legislation to this parliament for it to consider in this area.

As has been mentioned in this debate, last month I also appointed John Brumby, a former Premier and Treasurer of Victoria, to consider the feasibility of a Commonwealth antidumping agency. Specifically, I have asked him to investigate the current arrangements for considering antidumping cases and policy; the benefits and costs of retaining this function within the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service; the benefits and costs of establishing an agency to conduct antidumping assessments and investigations; the functions, including assessments, investigations and compliance, and powers that would be necessary for an agency to conduct effective antidumping assessments and investigations; the relation­ship between such an agency and existing appeals processes; the organisational structure that would be required for such an agency; and any other relevant matters.

Interestingly, in this debate some members of the coalition have said that this is the government acquiring their own policy. I should take this opportunity to remind members of the opposition what their policy is. The policy of the opposition, which was released in November, is to transfer antidumping responsibilities from Customs to the department of industry. Page 2 of the coalition's policy says:

We will make the Department of Industry responsible for Australia's anti-dumping regime.

One of the things I have done as the minister responsible for antidumping is consult with industry, with the key stakeholders in this sector and with unions. I have asked them whether this is the way to go, whether this is what should be done and whether the responsibilities for managing our antidump­ing system should be placed within the department of industry, as has been proposed by the opposition. Uniformly, their response has been no. That is why I have brought forward this review and asked Mr Brumby to do this work to consider the establishment of a stand-alone authority, because this is what industry wants. He has already held meetings with a number of stakeholders in Canberra and Melbourne, and many more meetings are scheduled over the course of the next six to eight weeks. A new website, www.antidumpingreview.gov.au, has been set up. An online submission process is also up and running from this website and I would encourage interested parties and members of the public to contribute.

I also would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff at Customs and Border Protection for all the work they have done on all four pieces of legislation that have been presented to this parliament to improve our antidumping system. I recognise in the House two members of that team. It is a distinguished team that does very hard work in an area of the law that members of both sides of the House recognise is extra­ordinarily complicated. It is very hard work. On behalf of both sides of the House I would like to thank them for the work they do and the work they have done in bringing these bills before us for our consideration. I commend them for their work and I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading