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Thursday, 14 May 1987
Page: 3250

Mr BARRY JONES (Minister for Science and Minister Assisting the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce)(5.25) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

I do not know what it is about the Customs Bills, they always seem to empty the chamber, but I am satisfied with the quality of the people in the chamber.

Mr Rocher —I am here, Barry.

Mr BARRY JONES —Absolutely. This Bill is the companion to the Customs and Excise Legislation Amendment Bill 1987 insofar as it relates to the decision announced in the economic statement of 13 May 1987 that all Commonwealth agencies other than departments are to be required to pay Customs Duty from 1 July 1987. The Bill provides for both changes to the Customs Tariff Act 1982 and the Customs Tariff Act 1987 to:

(a) Omit the existing provision for duty free entry of imported goods owned by a Commonwealth body or authority prescribed; and

(b) Provide for continued duty free entry of imported goods owned by the Commonwealth and for use by specified departments or any specified unincorporated Commonwealth body.

The specification of departments and any unincorporated Commonwealth body will be under the customs by-laws. Their specification is a matter directly related to the internal administration of government and therefore prescription by by-law is considered to be appropriate. It is to be noted that the requirement that the respective goods be owned by the Commonwealth excludes statutory bodies able to own goods in their own right from the ambit of specification under the customs by-laws. The Government's decision that all Commonwealth agencies other than departments be required to pay customs duty is in accord with the February 1987 report of the Committee of Review on Government High Technology Purchasing Arrangements. The Committee found that the concession of duty free entry of imports granted to most Commonwealth agencies leads to economic distortions and promotes a loss of allocative efficiency for the whole economy.

Financial Impact

The imposition of customs duty on Commonwealth agencies other than departments is expected to result in an increase in revenue of $75m per annum or about $225m in the next three years. I commend the Bill to the House and table the explanatory memorandum.

Debate (on motion by Mr Downer) adjourned.