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Tuesday, 24 February 1987
Page: 597

Mr BARRY JONES (Minister for Science and Minister Assisting the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce)(4.23) —I move:

Excise Tariff Proposals Nos 1 and 2 (1987) and Customs Tariff Proposals Nos 1 to 6 (1987).

The tariff proposals I have just tabled relate to proposed alterations to the Excise Tariff Act 1921 and the Customs Tariff Act 1982. Excise Tariff Proposals Nos 1 and 2 (1987) and Customs Tariff Proposals Nos 1 to 5 (1987) formally place before Parliament, as required by law, tariff alterations made by notices published in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette during the recent recess.

Excise Tariff Proposals Nos 1 and 2 (1987), operative on and from 17 January 1987 and 14 February 1987 respectively, provide for altered rates of excise duty on certain refined petroleum products resulting from the Government's decisions on the pricing of indigenous crude oil and related issues. Customs Tariff Proposals Nos 3 and 5 (1987), operative on and from the same dates, provide for corresponding alterations to rates of Customs duty. Rates of diesel fuel rebate have also been altered in conjunction with the changes I have just outlined. Eligible primary production continues to attract a 100 per cent duty rebate and the altered rates for eligible mining operations effectively mean no change in duty payable.

Customs Tariff Proposals No. 1 (1987), operative on and from 17 December 1986, implement the Government's decision on the Industries Assistance Commission's interim report on citrus fruit.

Mr Porter —Hear, hear!

Mr BARRY JONES —A feeling interjection from a South Australian member. The Government has decided to re-introduce the rates of duty which applied to citrus fruit juices of tariff sub-item 20.07.2 prior to 10 December 1986, until 9 December 1987. The rates will then phase down on and from 10 December 1987. This interim action has been taken pending receipt of the Industries Assistance Commission's final report on the fresh fruit and fruit products industries.

Customs Tariff Proposals No. 2 (1987), operative on and from 1 January 1987, contain a variety of amendments. The first set of amendments provides for the phased reduction of duty to free on certain rubber goods of New Zealand origin-partly to reflect concern about acquired immune deficiency syndrome. This action follows mutual determination by Australia and New Zealand under the Australia-New Zealand closer economic relations trade agreement. Customs Tariff Proposals No. 2 also implement a decision taken in the context of the Government's consideration of the post-1988 assistance arrangements for the textiles, clothing and footwear industries. The general tariff rate of 25 per cent on knitted fabrics laminated with expanded or foam rubber is reduced to 2 per cent.

A series of amendments made in the context of the current textiles, clothing and footwear sectoral policy are also included. These cover:

variations to the developing country exclusions from preference which are made annually;

the insertion of the 1987 tender quota rates of duty following the settlement of the relevant premium tender quota rates;

the extension of the validity of the 1986 quota allocations;

the phased duty reductions in certain items for goods of New Zealand origin which are made in accordance with article 5 of the ANZCERTA; and

changes providing special provisions in relation to footwear from New Zealand and hand made footwear from developing countries to avoid large variations in duty rates which could occur because of currency fluctuations.

Amendments to Schedule 5 and Part II of Schedule 4 to the Customs Tariff Act regarding passionfruit products also form part of Proposals No. 2. These changes complete the implementation of the new Forum Islands preference scheme which came into operation for all other goods on 1 July 1986. The final amendments in Customs Tariff Proposals No. 2 cover phasing arrangements under Article 4 of the ANZCERTA and the deletion of redundant phasing rates in Schedule 3 and Part II of Schedule 4.

Customs Tariff Proposals No. 4 (1987), operative on and from 1 February 1987, implement part of the Government's decision on the Industries Assistance Commission's report on the chemicals and plastics industries. These proposals form the first step in the phasing-in of the long term rates to apply to the chemicals and plastics industries. Most general tariff rates above 25 per cent fall to 25 per cent. Rates on certain basic chemicals are, however, reduced in the first phase to 20 per cent. Honourable members did not know that, did they?

Mr N.A. Brown —Why is it 20 per cent?

Mr BARRY JONES —The secrecy of Cabinet impedes me from explaining that. Also included in Customs Tariff Proposals No. 4 are new provisions in the Customs Tariff Act to enable the implementation of policy by-laws:

to permit the duty free importation of caustic soda for use in the production of alumina and for use in the processing of rare earth compounds and metals; and

to continue the duty free entry of certain films and plates used in educational, religious and related activities.

The final change in these proposals is the amendment of the definition of refined glycerol to be glycerol containing not less than 95 per cent by weight of glycerol calculated on a water free basis. In addition to the changes on refined petroleum products I mentioned earlier, Customs Tariff Proposals No. 5 contain a change to implement the Government's decision on the Industries Assistance Commission's report on electric lamps. The Government has accepted the Commission's recommendation that all electric lamps and parts therefor under reference be dutiable at a general tariff rate of 15 per cent. This change operates on and from 14 February 1987.

Customs Tariff Proposals No. 6 (1987), operative on and from 1 March 1987, implement two tariff changes on which decisions were taken in the context of the Government's recent decision on the textiles, clothing and footwear industries post-1988 assistance arrangements. The general tariff rate on knitted towelling and knitted towels will increase from 35 per cent to 60 per cent while the general tariff rate for interior textile blinds will increase from 2 per cent to 25 per cent. These changes are being made to remove anomalies which permit the goods involved to be entered at rates lower than those applying to substitute products, these changes have been deferred from their earlier operative date of 1 January 1987 in order not to penalise importers who were irrevocably committed to overseas purchases or who had goods `on the water'. Summaries of alterations contained in these proposals have been prepared and are being circulated for the information of honourable members. I commend the proposals to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Porter) adjourned.