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Wednesday, 4 May 1994
Page: 239

Senator SHERRY (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy) (6.21 p.m.) —I firstly point out to Senator O'Chee that the Customs Tariff Amendment Bill, which is before the Senate, has the support of the opposition and, indeed, the Democrats and the Greens, as I understand it. His grand eloquence, as usual, alleging constitutional impropriety by the government—

Senator Vanstone —Tell him where he's wrong.

Senator SHERRY —He is wrong and I am going to tell him why he is wrong in a moment. If he believes that there is a particular problem, at least he could be courteous enough to notify his own shadow minister who is handling this legislation.

Senator O'Chee —I only just noticed it.

Senator SHERRY —Senator O'Chee has a phone. He is sitting in a place where a phone is available. If it is of such dramatic consequence, then I think he could have notified Senator Short about the matter. I am not sure whether Senator O'Chee puts on these acts in order to try to impress the world—certainly Australia—with his eloquence. It is broadcast day.

Senator O'Chee —Mr Acting Deputy President, I raise a point of order. Senator Sherry is imputing an improper motive—a motive less than genuine. I take great offence at that and I ask Senator Sherry to withdraw.

Senator Sherry —Yes, I was imputing a motive and he has obviously taken great offence, so I unconditionally withdraw. I turn now to the explanation in rebuttal to Senator O'Chee's grand eloquence. This act does not impose taxation. The Senate may not amend a proposed bill imposing taxation. The taxation is imposed by the Customs Tariff Act of 1987. The tax on avgas and avtur has already been imposed by section 18 of the principal act. This bill varies the rate. It does not impose a tax and is not contrary to the constitution.

Senator O'Chee —That's a disputed argument.

Senator SHERRY —If Senator O'Chee wants to dispute that, he should take it up with Senator Short and the appropriate Senate committee at the appropriate time. I thank the other senators who have spoken on this bill. I do not have any further comments to make.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.

  Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.