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Friday, 6 December 1985
Page: 3125

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(9.58) —I am indebted to Senator Sanders for his support for the Customs Tariff (Stand-By Duty) Bill and I have noted Senator Durack's comments on behalf of the Opposition. I simply say in reply that the purpose of this Bill is to maintain some control, as Senator Durack says, of crude oil production and distribution in this country. But we are seeking to do that not because of any passionate commitment to heavy-handed government regulation and intervention for its own sake, but rather in the interests of maintaining, as Senator Sanders says, the integrity and credibility of the present allocation system. I will be happy to publicly debate at any time the merits of that system, but I will spare the Senate that contribution in view of the shortage of time with which we are confronted today.

I say finally that this Bill has been substantially redrafted following its initial exposure in 1984, to meet criticisms from various industry quarters. Those criticisms have largely subsided as a result of the reconsideration which then took place. Since Senator Durack expressed so much confidence in my predecessor's judgment in legislative matters, I am happy to inform him that, in fact, the present legislation was settled by my predecessor. The only reason it was not proceeded with late last year is that we ran out of time after the reconsideration process had taken place. The only reason it was not proceeded with in the first half of this year is that it was caught up in the May-June review of the allocation and import parity pricing system that then took place. We believe that so long as the present partial allocation system remains, it is important to have in place the kind of penalty duty regime for which this Bill provides as a guarantee that the integrity of that system will be preserved. Accordingly, I commend the legislation to the Senate.

Question put:

That the Bill be now read a second time.