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Thursday, 14 May 1942

Mr BEASLEY (West Sydney) (Minister for Supply and Development) . - by leave - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

This is a short measure to effect an amendment of the Excise Act 1901-1934 in order to enable the Department of Trade and Customs to issue regulations for the control of goods which come within the ambit of an excise tariff proposal. The Excise Act as it stands provides for the issue of regulations for " excisable goods " only. "Excisable goods" are defined in. the act as goods in respect of which excise duty is imposed by the Parliament. Legal opinion is to the effect that goods which are the subject of an excise tariff proposal do not come within the meaning of that definition. It is, therefore, considered necessary that the act be amended to enlarge the definition of "excisable goods " in order to include goods the subject of an excise tariff proposal.

The principle underlying the bill is strongly recommended for favorable consideration by honorable members. Its adoption is most desirable and will solve a difficulty which at present exists in the making of excise regulations for the protection of the revenue, relative to fresh items incorporated in the excise tariff.

The bill consists of four clauses, two of which are machinery. Clause 3 relates to the definition to which I have already referred. Clause 4 provides that when an excise proposal imposes duties on goods previously free, the manufacturer of those goods shall be allowed two months from the date of the introduction of the proposal in order to comply with the provisions of the Excise Act, relating to registration and licence, but excise control will commence immediately.

Until 1941 it was the practice of the department to make excise regulations under excise tariff proposals, but following a conference, with officers of the Attorney-General's Department, it was revealed that considerable doubt existed as to the legality of that practice. After mature consideration the AttorneyGeneral's Department stated that, to place the matter beyond doubt, the Excise Act should be amended. Since the holding of the conference it has been necessary, in order to safeguard the revenue, to issue a regulation relating to excise under the National Security Act, but this has been done in regard to one item only, viz., carbonic acid gas. When this bill becomes law it is intended to cancel the regulation issued under the National Security Act and to issue a new regulation under the Excise Act.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.

Bill - by leave - read a third time.

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