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Wednesday, 22 August 1973
Page: 214

Mr MORRISON (St George) (Minister for Science and Minister for External Territories) - I move:

That the Bills be now read a second time.

I am pleased to introduce these 3 Bills that represent further steps toward the progressive introduction of the metric system. Honourable members will recall that the decision to bring about progressively the use of the metric system as the sole system for the measurement of physical quantities in Australia was incorporated in the Metric Conversion Act which was passed in June 1970. The second annual report of the Metric Conversion Board was 'tabled in this House during October last year. It reported that steady progress had been made towards conversion. The broad plan adopted by the Board was that 1971 should be a year of planning and coordination; 1972 a year of increasing public awareness; and 1973-75 should be years of major implementation. By 1976, 70 per cent of the nation's activities should have been converted to the metric system. Many consumer goods, such as eggs, sugar and bread, already have been converted. Many more are planned for the remainder of this year.

An interdepartmental co-ordinating committee for metric conversion has established that about 110 Acts contain references to physical units. These need to be converted in step with the programs for conversion. Several Acts relating to the Customs Tariff were amended last year. The present Bills amend 3 Acts. The Honey Levy Bills Nos 1 and 2 provide respectively for a levy to be imposed on all honey produced in Australia and sold, or used in the production of other goods. Convenient rounded metric equivalents have been substituted for existing imperial quantities in the Acts. The maximum levy that can be applied has been converted from lc per lb to 2.2c per kilogram. This is a decrease of 0.2 per cent. At present a person is exempt from the levy if his monthly production is less than 120 lb. The nearest rational metric quantity, SO kilograms, has been substituted. The amendments give effect to the recommendations of the honey industry and reflect its progress towards conversion. Already, bulk export of honey is invoiced in tonnes. Retail packs will be converted during the next 12 months as new jars and tins become available.

The main purpose of the Egg Export Charges Bill is to convert to equivalent metric measurement the rates of charge imposed on egg exports under the Egg Export Charges Act 1947-1965. Money collected under that Act is appropriated to the Australian Egg Board under the provisions of die Egg Export

Control Act 1947-1966. The Bill provides for the rates of charge which are expressed in Imperial units to be converted to equivalent metric units. This conversion results in a decrease of about 0.2 per cent in the actual rates of levy. The opportunity has also been taken to make two machinery changes. The first substitutes the word 'Australia' for the word 'Commonwealth' as being more appropriate in clauses 2 and 3. The second deletes the words 'after a date to be fixed by Proclamation'. The date has been proclaimed and the words are no longer necessary. I commend these 3 Bills to this House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Sinclair) adjourned.

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