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Thursday, 20 May 1993
Page: 922

Senator SPINDLER (11.40 a.m.) —I rise to address briefly the Excise Tariff Amendment Bill 1993. The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Excise Tariff Act 1921 to decrease the excise duty payable on gasoline for use in aircraft—known as avgas—and to increase the excise duty payable on tobacco and tobacco products.

  The price of avgas will fall by a total of 2.1c per litre as a consequence of this Bill. The reduction in the price of avgas can be separated into two separate components. First, there is a 2c per litre reduction which is attributable to the aerodrome cost recovery program. This program involves transferring Commonwealth owned aerodromes to full local ownership and encouraging aerodrome owners who are receiving funding under the aerodrome local ownership plan to accept full responsibility for their aerodromes.

  Secondly, there is a 0.1c per litre reduction due to the Civil Aviation Authority `achieving cost savings in the provision of its rescue and firefighting services' to secondary capital city airports. This has been implemented after a comprehensive consultative process which was carried out with the aviation industry, local authorities and the Federal Airports Corporation. Nevertheless, the Australian Democrats wish to ensure that the results of this cost cutting measure are monitored so that the rescue and firefighting services are not diminished at these airports.

  In addition, the Democrats wish to express concern, as Senator Chapman has, about the new airspace system which is to be introduced by the Civil Aviation Authority. Without going into the detail that Senator Chapman has put on record, the Australian Democrats would suggest to the Minister that it is appropriate to review the concerns that have been expressed by various people in the industry and put on the record in the Senate today and to respond in some detail on the concerns which have been expressed.

  Turning to the excise on tobacco and tobacco products, this will increase by $5 per kilogram under this Bill, raising the price from $52.50 to $57.50 per kilogram. This was a measure announced by the Government in its 1992 Budget and is designed to address the social costs of smoking; that is, to improve the health of the Australian community. The Australian Democrats very strongly support this measure not just as a revenue raising measure but very much as a measure to address the social costs of smoking.

  The Democrats have a long history of attempting to decrease the use of tobacco in the community in realisation of the tremendous health costs—billions of dollars that are being borne by the whole community, quite apart from the diminishing health of individuals. I refer to the private member's Bill initiated by Senator Powell prohibiting the print advertising of tobacco which was passed through both Houses, the first such Bill for a long time and certainly the first private member's Bill by a woman senator.

  The Australian Democrats have continued that campaign, and in particular I refer to Senator Robert Bell's efforts to remove the cost of tobacco from the CPI so that the additional imposts that we as a matter of policy support do not affect the inflationary effects of increases in the CPI. It is a matter that the Australian Democrats will continue to pursue. The Democrats certainly give their support to this Bill.