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Wednesday, 27 May 1987
Page: 3426


Mr BRAITHWAITE(4.31) —I move:

Clause 7, page 3, at the end of proposed subsection 163 (1c) add ``entered for home consumption after 13 May 1987''.

It is the belief of the National Party of Australia that the Bill provides retrospective application of a fee. We believe that the addition of the amendment to sub-section 163 (1c) will clarify something which, at the moment, is left in the hands of regulations. Frankly, I must tell the Minister for Science and Minister Assisting the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce (Mr Barry Jones) that we have no faith that regulations yet to be promulgated will clear up the case.

The aspect of retrospectivity is, quite simply, that as from 13 May refunds would have been due to agents and customers for overpayment of duties in the normal course of events, as I explained to the House during my second reading speech. Before the introduction of the fee, it has been the custom that refunds could be applied for and obtained free of charge. Now, $200 will be levied from a certain date. We have already objected to the amount of the fee, but that is not the purpose of the amendment. We are seeking to provide that the fee should apply only to refunds sought on goods that enter for home consumption after 13 May 1987. The amendment extends the scope of the sub-section from the basis of an application made after 13 May for a refund of duty paid in respect of goods to those goods entered for home consumption after 13 May 1987.

It is our firm belief that the proposed fee is a retrospective application of tax. I know that the Government has had no problem in this area in the past. It will be interesting to discover just how honest the Australian Democrats in the Senate want to keep the Government in this regard. We are not prepared to wait until regulations are promulgated that might catch this aspect. We want it made quite clear that applications can be made for refunds on goods received prior to 13 May 1987, and that the $200 fee applies only for goods received after 13 May.