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Tuesday, 16 October 1984
Page: 1773

Senator JACK EVANS(5.53) —I will speak only briefly on these Bills, because the Australian Democrats support the legislation. We have a couple of areas of concern. One of them is that, whilst we believe that the Government has acted in a very proper way in drawing the distinction in the excise rates, particularly the new excise rates for light beer, beer with a very low alcohol content, we also believe that the Government could have taken a much more moralistic approach to this and attracted in every way possible, including in its approach to excise rates, as many people as possible, particularly young people, to a very light strength beer, if they are going to drink beer at all. We believe this, not in the context of imposing any standards on anybody, but simply because we believe that the imposition of any excise duty on a very light beer, which would negate the appeal of that beer to young people who feel that they have to drink beer, would run quite counter to all of the steps that have been taken to reduce the road toll.

I wish also to make a brief comment on the increase in excise duties on aviation gasolene and aviation kerosene. We recognise that a difficult crunch decision had to be made here, but we believe that the Government had an opportunity to show its encouragement and support of people living in rural areas. It could have kept that levy down to enable people to be compensated to a degree for the fact that they are living in remote areas. I should indicate to the Opposition, which has moved a couple of amendments to this package of Bills, that the Australian Democrats will support the first amendment, which relates to the application and the procedures for the imposition of duty on the importation of hot stamping machines into Australia but at this stage-I have not even seen the second amendment yet so I do not speak with the voice of authority-from what I have heard of the second amendment the Democrats will probably not support it. But more of that in the Committee stage when I will have had an opportunity to study the amendment and find out in more detail the rationale for it. We can take that on the wing, I guess, as we quite frequently have to do in this place, in more ways than one. I make the point that the Democrats also occasionally do this to the Opposition and the Government. It can happen. We will look at the amendment in the Committee stage and I will indicate the Democrats' response to it at that point.