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Tuesday, 17 March 1987
Page: 777

Senator TATE (Special Minister of State)(4.09) —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-

This Bill proposes to amend the Customs Tariff (Uranium Concentrate Export Duty) Act 1980 to incorporate into that Act the tariff proposals tabled on 19 August 1986. As part of the 1986-87 Budget the proposals increased the export duty on uranium concentrate produced from the Alligator Rivers region in the Northern Territory from 11c to 80c per kilogram from 19 August 1986. The export duty imposed on uranium since 1980 is to offset the special costs of environmental monitoring and research activities by the Office of the Supervising Scientist associated with uranium mining operations in the Alligator Rivers region. The increase in the duty is being made to recover about 50 per cent of the costs.

The Office of the Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers region was created in recognition of the special need to protect the environment in that region, which includes Kakadu National Park, from the effects of uranium mining operations in both the short and the long term.

The Kakadu National Park is a world heritage area, in which all Australian can take pride. The Government's continued commitment to the Office of the Supervising Scientist will ensure that this important area of Australia is fully protected from any possible effects of uranium mining operations.

Clause 4 of the Bill provides an exemption from the increased levy in the standard transitional situations where uranium concentrate was loaded on to a vessel, or was part of a consignment which was commenced to be loaded, prior to the 19 August 1986 commencement of this Bill.

Additionally, clause 4 specifically exempts from the increased levy about 800 short tons of uranium concentrate exported after 19 August 1986 under a contract between Queensland Mines Ltd and Electricite de France. This amount of uranium represents the quantity which the Commonwealth purchased from Queensland Mines Ltd after placing an embargo in June 1983 on Australian exports of uranium for end use in France.

With the removal of the embargo in August last year Queensland Mines Ltd subsequently repurchased this uranium. However, the Government has decided that the uranium in question, which but for the embargo would have been exported before the levy increase proposed in clause 3 of the Bill, should not now be subject to the increased rate. Hence the exemption proposed in clause 4 (c) of the Bill.

Financial Impact Statement

The increased uranium export levy is expected to raise an additional $2.6m per year. The total levy will now recover approximately 50 per cent of the annual cost of the monitoring and research activities of the Office of the Supervising Scientist.

I commend the Bill to the Senate and present the explanatory memorandum to the Bill.

Debate (on motion by Senator Kilgariff) adjourned.