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Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Page: 4417

Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (10:53): I rise to voice my support for these two bills, the Customs Amendment (Anti-dumping Improvements) Bill (No. 2) 2012 and the Customs Tariff (Anti-Dumping) Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2012. I particularly thank the member for Throsby for his contribution. I suppose it will be interesting to see how the member for Hughes's contribution is taken in the light of his attempt, as I understand him, to rewrite the rules of Federation, which is quite a brave thing to do. He made no mention of a referendum, but it was an interesting exploration of law and how the states interact. I think he might find some value in having a reread of his Constitution.

The bills before the chamber are part of the Gillard government's multifaceted approach to improving Australia's antidumping system. These are some of the most important improvements to Australia's antidumping regime in more than a decade. Industries, companies and workers suffer when goods from overseas are dumped into the Australian market, companies such as the ones I see when I drive through Moreton, especially in Rocklea, Archerfield, Salisbury and Acacia Ridge. It only hurts Australia in the long run if our manufacturers are forced to shut down so that competition is removed and they put their employees out of work to make way for cheaper overseas products. As the member for Throsby touched on, normally if an Australian business is closed down, and there is no competition, prices rise and all consumers suffer. So it is vital that we have a fair and effective antidumping regime. This is about protecting jobs across Australia and especially, I would say, in my own manufacturing area of Moreton. Already, manufacturers face challenges such as the high dollar—although I see it has come off the boil a little bit lately—and this incredible patchwork economy where we see those businesses in my electorate that service the mining industry booming. The only builders who are working are doing renovations for people who work in the mining industry. Others are doing it tough. So I have some great businesses that are booming and others who are really doing it hard. Obviously, if we look around the world we see slowing global demand as a result of the global financial crisis. There are a few green shoots there but also a few troubling signs as well if we look at perhaps France and Greece and some of the political decisions that might be made over there.

In Moreton, many of my manufacturers are still feeling the impacts of the 2011 floods that devastated their industrial zone in Rocklea in particular but also in Archerfield and some sections of Acacia Ridge and Yeronga. Recently I had a chamber of industry event—the Southside chamber and the Archerfield chamber combined—with the Minister for Small Business, Brendan O'Connor. Many of the business people there talked about how they were coping with recuperating from the floods. They also pointed out the people who were not there who did not recover and had closed down because of the damage from the floods. Internationally known companies like Steve Parish, the photography and printing business, are now out of business because of the effect of the floods—and the high dollar and the tourism downturn.

I am proud to be part of the Gillard government that is focused on supporting small business with investments and job creation. This antidumping legislation is only part of the story. We see that the proceeds of the mining tax have enabled the government to give small business the ability to write off any new business asset worth up to $6,500. This will be worth more than $1 billion across the sector and I am sure many of my businesses will appreciate that. They will be able to write off the first $5,000 used in the purchase of a motor vehicle thereby freeing up cash flow and giving them room to invest. That is also good news for the Moorooka Magic Mile of Motors, which is in my electorate.

We are also giving the Small Business Advisory Service program an extra $27.5 million over four years to continue supporting small businesses with vital advice and assistance. Since it was introduced, this program has provided over 354,000 separate advisory services to more than 187,000 small businesses around the country. As we know, small businesses are the employers and the engine room of the economy. More than 90 per cent of the users of this service, when surveyed, said that they would recommend the service to other small businesses.

We are establishing a key point of contact for small businesses in their liaison with government in the form of a Small Business Commissioner, as announced by Minister O'Connor. Small business owners will be able to get the information and advice they need thanks to the national information and referral service. It will also give them access to other services including help to resolve disputes. Obviously, having a minister in cabinet looking after this small business portfolio is also a good thing. We have moved to establish a $29.8 million manufacturing technology innovation centre to create networks with small businesses, industry bodies, major manufacturers and research organisations. These measures demonstrate the government's commitment to helping the many businesses currently under pressure. We will continue to work closely with these industries to help them overcome the many current challenges.

The reforms in these particular antidumping bills are based on feedback from businesses, unions and workers who interact with Australia's antidumping system. Their focus is to make sure our antidumping system is better aligned with the laws and practices of other countries, particularly those that play fairly, and to help provide certainty and confidence for businesses and local jobs.

Australia is a nation of trade. We benefit from access to overseas markets for our export goods and services—mining and agriculture are just some of them. We welcome the imports that flow through to Australian businesses. Therefore, we cannot just throw up trade barriers. That is the old way, the way of Australia before Federation, although some of the comments from the member for Hughes suggest he wants to go back to a time before 1 January 1901. This short-term populism of throwing up trade barriers would only deliver long-term pain. Every sensible economist knows that, although we do have a few people opposite who do talk about raising trade barriers quite regularly.

The Gillard government wants to uphold confidence in international trade and that means having confidence in the rules. These bills make clear that the CEO of Customs and Border Protection and the minister have the express power to take all facts available into account when determining whether a countervailable subsidy has been received or in determining the amount of a countervailing subsidy when the parties being investigated by Customs fail to provide relevant information within a reasonable period or significantly impede the investigation of an inquiry. This is a common-sense approach to the needs of business. This reform ensures that our antidumping system better reflects the World Trade Organisation agreement on subsidies and countervailing measures.

Secondly, these bills remove the need for a separate review of antidumping measures and continuation inquiries occurring in close proximity to each other. This reform will streamline the process, meaning quicker outcomes for all interested parties, particularly the workers of Australia. These bills also put into practice the recommendation of the International Trade Remedies Forum to take away the current limitation to the inclusion of profit when calculating the normal value of a good in its country of origin in certain circumstances. This allows greater flexibility for Customs to more accurately determine the normal value of goods.

Finally, these bills allow different forms of interim duty to be applied from those currently used. The types of interim dumping duty which could be used will include an ad valorem duty, a fixed amount of duty, a combination duty or a floor price mechanism.

In conclusion, better support can be given to our employers and employees with an up-to-date, rigorous and better resourced antidumping system and, at the same time, we can reiterate Australia's commitment to play according to the world trading rules. Unfortunately, not all of our competitor trading nations play fair, and that is why we have this legislation. These reforms will provide better access to the antidumping system, faster remedies and faster decisions, improved quality of decision making, greater consistency with other countries and stronger compliance with antidumping measures. For this reason I commend the minister for introducing the bills to the House.