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Wednesday, 11 August 2004
Page: 26224

Senator NETTLE (8:48 PM) —I will help explain that to the minister. The yarn forward rule is a rule which exists in the United States about the way textiles are manufactured. It is not Australian law. It is not based on what Australian textile and clothing manufacturers need to do. This trade agreement signs up Australia to having to comply with the yarn forward rule, which other countries have found extremely hard to comply with. Eighty per cent of Australian TCF manufacturers use overseas yarn or fabric and so will not be able to comply with the yarn forward rule. This trade agreement locks Australia into having to comply with the yarn forward rule if manufacturers want to have tariff-free access into the United States. No equivalent exists in Australia. It is a United States rule that is set up.

The trade agreement also allows for United States Customs officials to enter and inspect textile factories in Australia in order to ensure that the United States rules are complied with. So the Australian government is saying, `Even though it is not one of our rules, we will enforce this rule and ensure it is complied with, and we will do it with the assistance and accompaniment of United States Customs officials at the time.' The legislation says that Australian officers checking for compliance with the yarn forward rule will be accompanied by one or more US Customs officials. Has the Australian government had any indication from the Bush administration of how many US Customs officials will be involved in these activities? Will they be stationed in Australia? Will they come over at times when required? Has there been any indication of how many US Customs officials would be going into textile factories in regional parts of New South Wales, Victoria or other parts of Australia?