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Tuesday, 23 September 1958

Mr OSBORNE (Evans) (Minister for Air) .- I move-

That the bill be now read a second time.

This bill proposes to include in the Excise Act the power to pay drawback of duty, that is to say, to refund the amount of duty involved where goods on which excise duty has been paid are used in the manufacture of other goods which are subsequently exported. A similar provision relating to drawback of duty on imported goods is contained in the Customs Act.

Authority to pay drawback of excise duty, where excisable goods are exported as such from Australia, is already contained in the Excise Act. The act does not provide, however, for drawback to be paid where excisable goods on which duty has been paid are used in conjunction with other goods in manufacturing processes, thus losing their identity as excisable goods, and the manufactured goods are then exported. Clause 5 of this bill will enable this to be done. At the same time, it will allow regulations to be made to govern the procedures for the payment of drawback. These will follow the same lines as the customs procedures in respect of imported goods.

The bill also includes an amendment to empower an officer of customs or a police officer to arrest a person when the officer has reasonable grounds for believing that the person has committed the offence of assaulting an officer in the execution of his duties. Honorable members can well imagine what might constitute reasonable grounds for suspecting that an assault has been committed on an officer. The act at present provides a power of arrest in cases such as the unlawful manufacture or possession of excisable goods. The proposed extension of this power to cover assault cases is deemed necessary as a protective measure to excise officers performing official duties.

Further, the bill will repeal section 101 of the Excise Act, which requires a written statement to be given to a person who has been arrested showing the reason for arrest. That section was enacted in 1901. In 1903 Parliament passed the Judiciary Act which, by section 68, provides that the laws of each State respecting the arrest and custody of persons charged with offences shall apply so far as they are applicable to persons charged with offences against the laws of the Commonwealth committed within that State. It is no longer the practice, when conferring on a Commonwealth officer power to arrest persons without warrant, to provide that he shall inform the person arrested either orally or in writing of the reasons for the arrest, because this is adequately covered by State laws which apply by virtue of section 68 of the Judiciary Act. Accordingly, section 101 of the Excise Act is being repealed in order to bring that act into line with present practice.

The repeal will prevent difficulty arising by reason of there being one law on this matter when the arrest is made under the Excise Act and a different law when the arrest is made under another Commonwealth act or under a State act. The repeal will not allow a person to be arrested without knowing the reasons for his arrest, because the law of all States requires the person making an arrest to inform the person arrested of the offence for which he has been arrested, but it is not usual now to require that information to be given in writing.

Also, the bill will repeal sections relating to the treatment of offenders by courts and gaolers in the event of non-payment of penalties imposed for offences against the Excise Act. The sections concerned, referred to in clause 8, are now considered inappropriate in Commonwealth law. Similar sections of the Customs Act relating to treatment of offenders by courts and gaolers were repealed in 1957, as it was considered preferable for the matters covered by the sections to be left to ordinary powers of enforcement of penalties of the courts under their State legislation. The Department of Customs and Excise will rely in future on State legislation in this matter.

The bill contains some amendments of a drafting nature and a provision in clause 9 to allow time for the making of regulations for the administration of drawback procedures prior to the section dealing with drawback payments being brought into operation by proclamation. I present the bill for the favorable consideration of honorable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.

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