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Wednesday, 5 September 1984
Page: 447


Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(10.22) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows-

The Customs Tariff Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1984 which is now before the Senate proposes amendments to the Customs Tariff Act 1982 which are to operate on and from 8 p.m. on 21 August 1984. The changes contained in the Bill are complementary measures to changes in the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act which are part of the Government's Budget measures. The sales tax amendments impose sales tax on locally produced and imported alcoholic wine and cider and on beers with an alcoholic strength of not more than 1.15 per cent by volume. The requirements under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade necessitate that internal taxes be applied equally to imported and like domestic products. The sales tax legislation carries this out.

Equalization of the sales tax on the imported and local products does, however, alter the levels of assistance accorded the locally produced goods. For this reason it is necessary to amend the relevant rates in the Customs Tariff. In each instance the sales tax that applied to the imported goods was 20 per cent, in regard to beer and cider the full 20 per cent rate has been converted into an equivalent customs duty, however, for grape wine Australia has entered into commitments under the GATT not to increase the Customs duty above certain specified bound levels. Negotiations have been taking place with the principal countries supplying wine to the Australian market with a view to accommodating the sales tax within the level of the binding on the Customs duty. With these considerations in mind, the Government has decided to replace the present sales tax on imported wine by a customs duty equivalent to a sales tax of 10 per cent, this action is seen as being fully consistent with Australia's obligations under the GATT.

I commend the Bill.

Debate (on motion by Senator Reid) adjourned.