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Wednesday, 14 November 1973

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral and Minister for Customs and Excise) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill is to make an amendment to the Customs Act which is necessary to bring it into a form that allows complete application of the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of

Wild Fauna and Flora. Honourable senators will recall that, when the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, the honourable Moss Cass, recently announced that the Australian Government had decided to sign the Convention, he foreshadowed amendments to Customs legislation to prohibit international trade in those species covered by the Convention.

The Convention obliges contracting states to control importation or exportation of specimens to which the Convention applies and further requires the exercise of controls in respect of any such specimens introduced from the sea. The authority given respectively by section 50 and 1 12 of the Customs Act to prohibit by regulation the importation or exportation of goods provides adequate basis for whatever import and export restrictions may be required in terms of the Convention. However, a somewhat anomalous position arises in that section 131a of the Customs Act specifically exempts from the control of the Customs fish and other produce of the sea landed by Australia registered fishing boats operating out of Australian ports.

It is necessary to qualify this provision to make it quite clear that exemption from the exercise of control by the Customs does not apply in relation to any specimen of a marine species the importation of which is subject to prohibition or restriction under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations, that is, to conform with the provisions of the Convention. The Bill now before the Senate does nothing more than supply that necessary qualification. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.

Debate (on motion by Senator Cotton) adjourned.

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