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Thursday, 22 April 1999
Page: 4125

Senator O'BRIEN (1:07 PM) —I wish to make some brief comments about the Customs (Anti-dumping Amendments) Bill 1998 and the Customs Tariff (Anti-Dumping) Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1998 . This government has taken an incredible amount of time to progress these import ant amendments. In fact, these amendments were originally introduced into the parliament in June 1997 as the Customs Legislation (Anti-Dumping) Amendment Bill. That bill lapsed with the proroguing of parliament on 31 August 1998.

A key feature of this legislation is to provide a special approach for determining normal values of allegedly dumped goods from countries that are in the process of transition to a market economy. This amendment was in fact announced by the government in March 1997—over two years ago.

The delay in progressing this important legislation rests entirely with the government. We on this side of the chamber, and our colleagues in the other place, have been keen to progress it. The government has been arguing for some time that its legislative program has been blocked by the opposition parties in the Senate. The manner in which the government has dealt with these important bills stands in sharp contrast to those claims. And they are only one example.

A matter of weeks ago, we debated the enabling legislation for the government's rural training program—FarmBis. The detail of that program was announced by the government in September 1997. Funding for the program was actually provided for in the May budget of that year. Yet there we were, in March 1999, still trying to get the enabling legislation through the parliament.

We on this side of the chamber see anti-dumping laws as important legal weapons against unfair international trading practices. This is not about protection; this is about fairness. Australian industries should not have to compete with imports where the costs of production do not reflect the price ultimately charged. I hope the government is of the same view. We will be supporting the bills.