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Thursday, 11 May 2000
Page: 14431


Senator HEFFERNAN (Parliamentary Secretary to Cabinet) (3:55 PM) —I move:

That these bills be now read a second time.

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

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows

Fuel Sales Grants Bill 2000

In the ANTS Tax Reform policy document, the Government recognised that by reducing excise on petroleum fuels at the time the GST is introduced, the price to consumers of petrol and diesel need not rise.

The Government acknowledges, however, that consumers generally face higher fuel prices in rural and remote areas. By this Bill the Government proposes a grant on fuel sales that will help to address the divergence in fuel prices between metropolitan and regional areas.

Grants will be paid to fuel retailers for sales to end users that are made in eligible locations after 30 June this year. Grants will be paid at a higher rate

for sales made in locations that are remote from major urban centres. Eligible locations and the rate of grants to be paid are to be prescribed in regulations.

Further details about the entitlement criteria and how to apply for payments under the scheme will be provided in advance of the implementation before 1 July 2000. The scheme will provide for advances to be made against grant entitlements. These will address cash flow concerns.

Fuel prices will be monitored in the lead up to 1 July 2000 and fuel retailers will be expected to pass on to consumers the benefit of the fuel sales grant.

This Bill, the Fuel Sales Grants Bill, is one of 3 Bills that are required to implement the Fuel Sales Grants scheme. Together with regulations contemplated by the Bill, it will confer the entitlement to the grant on eligible claimants.

The provisions of the Fuel Sales Grants Bill are to commence from Royal Assent. The Government anticipates that the Bills will be enacted well before 1 July 2000 so as to avoid any undue delay in implementing the scheme.

Full details of the measures in the Bill are contained in the explanatory memorandum.

I commend the Bill and present the explanatory memorandum.

Product Grants and Benefits Administration Bill 2000

This Bill, the Product Grants and Benefits Administration Bill, is the second of a package of 3 Bills that are required to implement the Fuel Sales Grants scheme.

This Bill will provide a standardised administrative framework for grants and benefits administered by the Commissioner of Taxation. It provides for matters such as:

· the registration of claimants;

· the claiming and assessment grants;

· the making of advance payments;

· the record-keeping obligations of claimants; and

· measures to promote compliance with the grants and benefits law.

The provisions in this Bill are to commence from Royal Assent.

Full details of the measures in the Bill are contained in the already presented explanatory memorandum.

I commend the Bill.

Fuels Sales Grants (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2000

This Bill, the Fuel Sales Grants (Consequential Amendments) Bill, is the third of the package of 3 Bills that are required to implement the Fuel Sales Grants scheme.

This Bill will amend the Taxation Administration Act 1953 to ensure that the provisions which apply generally to Acts administered by the Commissioner of Taxation will apply appropriately to the new grants and benefits laws. These provisions include those relating to prosecutions and offences, the general interest charge, and the collection and recovery of tax-related liabilities.

The provisions of this Bill are to commence at the same time as those in the Fuel Sales Grants Bill.

Full details of the measures in the Bill are contained in the already presented explanatory memorandum.

I commend the Bill.

Ordered that further consideration of these bills be adjourned until the first day of the winter sittings 2000, in accordance with standing order 111.