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Wednesday, 4 June 2008
Page: 4591

Mr DEBUS (Minister for Home Affairs) (4:21 PM) —in reply—I sincerely thank the honourable member for Sturt for filibustering for me while I found my way through the back passages of the parliament. I did not hear his exact words but I am inclined to believe that his general observations about the health implications of tobacco were correct.

The Customs Tariff Amendment (Tobacco Content) Bill 2008 is of an almost terminally technical nature. I am told that the term ‘tobacco content’ was first introduced into the Customs Tariff Act in 1999; that it was intended then that tobacco content would include the sugar, flavour and anything else added to the tobacco leaf during the manufacturing or processing of the product; and that it has been Customs practice and indeed an assumption of the industry since the introduction of that term that it included those elements. Nevertheless, the bill has not formally so defined ‘tobacco content’ and that is what we are now doing. The bill provides a definition of the term ‘tobacco content’ for the purposes of the act and confirms existing practice. It will serve to protect government revenue with regard to imported tobacco products. As it is not my purpose to diverge into questions of the health implications of tobacco, I find myself really unable to say anything more about such a minimal change to a piece of legislation. Indeed, I do think that, in my own career, it marks something of a record in terms of its brevity. I commend the bill to the Committee.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that the bill be reported to the House without amendment.