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Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Page: 4421

Mr CLARE (BlaxlandMinister for Home Affairs, Minister for Justice and Minister for Defence Materiel) (11:09): I thank the member for Stirling for his contribution to this debate. The Customs Tariff Amendment (Schedule 4) Bill 2012 contains important amendments to the Customs Tariff Act 1995. These amendments will repeal the current schedule 4 of the act and replace it with an easier, simpler schedule. Schedule 4 delivers a wide range of tariff concessions. These concessions have the effect of reducing or removing the normal rate of customs duty that would otherwise apply.

At the moment, schedule 4, as the shadow minister said, is complex and difficult for industry and importers to use. Because of this, in 2010 the government announced a Better Regulation Ministerial Partnership to examine and simplify the current regime. That partnership recommended making schedule 4 easier to use by doing a number of things, including removing items that were redundant and restructuring to place similar items together. The bill is a result of that work. It does remove red tape and makes it easier for Australian businesses and importers to use this section of the Customs Tariff Act. When enacted, the schedule 4 bill will reduce the existing tariff concession schedule to around half the current number of items and improve its clarity and usability. The bill preserves the scope of current concessions at the same rate. It has strong industry support and will benefit importers, customs brokers and manufacturers.

The bill also formally incorporates the extension of the SPARTECA-TCF Scheme to 31 December 2014. This scheme relates to textile, clothing and footwear concessions for prescribed Forum Island countries. The extension was initially contained in Customs Tariff Proposal (No. 1) 2012, tabled in parliament on 16 February this year.

I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.