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Wednesday, 3 June 1970

Mr CHIPP (HOTHAM, VICTORIA) (Minister for Customs and Excise) - I have seen a number of articles in the 'Financial Review' and also references from time to time in the weekly publication 'Tariff Week', which virtually alleged that the Department of Customs and Excise has intruded into the field of tariff making and policy making. As the Minister now responsible for the administration of the Department of Customs and Excise, I say to the House quite categorically that I do not, nor does my Department, regard any function in the policy making field concerning tariffs as being the responsibility of the Department. That is and always has been the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry, and his Department.

Policy is determined not by the Tariff Board but by Cabinet after recommendations of the Tariff Board are put before Cabinet. At the moment discussions are going on between officers of my Department and representatives of the truck industry because the relevant Customs Tariff gives me, as Minister, and my Department power to admit into Australia duty free those goods for which a suitable equivalent is not reasonably available in Australia. For years, under standing bylaws relating to the truck industry, certain parts for trucks have been imported duty free because there was no suitable equivalent reasonably available in Australia. But as the Australian industry develops, suitable equivalents which have not hitherto been reasonably available in Australia for certain imports do become available. As Minister for Customs and Excise, under the terms of an Act of this Parliament, I am legally obliged in those circumstances to cancel the various by-laws which apply. That we will continue to do, applying the criteria, which are well known to the honourable member.


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