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Thursday, 19 February 1959

Mr OSBORNE (Evans) (Minister for Air) .- I move- [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 1).]

That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1958 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals, and that on and after the twentieth day of February, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-nine, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Australian Capital Territory, Duties of Customs be collected in pursuance of the Customs Tariff 1933-1958 as so amended.




Mr. Chairman,Customs Tariff Proposals No. 1, which I have just introduced, propose to amend the schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1958. The alterations will come into operation at 9 a.m. to-morrow morning. Most of the amendments now being made are based on recommendations made by the Tariff Board in its reports on buttons; almonds in the shell, kernels, paste and meal; and cotton piecegoods (denims and drills).

I will table these reports and other Tariff Board reports at a later stage.

Existing duties on buttons and button blanks have been varied to provide increased protection for those which are made wholly or principally of casein or synthetic materials or which are imitations of trochus shell or pearl shell. The new rates on these goods are lid. per gross for each ligne measurement under all columns of the Tariff with a reduction of 12½ per cent. ad valorem when the goods are entitled to British preferential tariff treatment. This12½ per cent. reduction under the British preferential tariff is designed to maintain a margin of preference in favour of the United Kingdom. I might mention that a ligne is equal to one-fortieth of an inch.

On metal buttons and blanks, the British preferential tariff has been increased from 17½ per cent. to 22½ per cent., but no change has been made in the most-favoured-nation rates for these goods. No change has been made in the duties applicable to buttons of animal shell, bone horn, or vegetable ivory, other than to reduce the general tariff rate from 27½ per cent. to 22½ per cent. The rates of duties on buttons wholly or partly of gold or silver remain unchanged. Other buttons covered by the tariff proposals now become dutiable at reduced rates of 22½ per cent. British preferential tariff and 35 per cent. otherwise.

Protective duties have been varied for both shelled and unshelled almonds. The rates comprise a fixed rate per lb. subject to a reduction of 75 per cent. of the free on board price of the goods. The significant rates are those applying under the intermediate tariff. Using such rates, this type of protection ensures that when almonds are plentiful overseas and the price is low the duty payable on imports into Australia will be higher. However, when the overseas price rises the duty payable will be progressively reduced until, at a price where the free on board price for almond kernels is 7s. 4d. or more per lb., there will be no duty payable on imports. The significant free on board price for unshelled almonds at which no duty becomes payable is 2s. 8d. per lb. in respect of imports from most favoured nations.

In regard to cotton piece goods, the two protective items dealing with piece goods of the types principally used and those ordinarily but not principally used for men's or boys' outer clothing have now been amalgamated. This action has resulted in some increase in duties, mainly in the British preferential tariff, and some reduction in the general tariff rates.

In the past, the existence of two items for goods identical but for colour has presented serious problems for both importers and customs officers. There are two drafting changes associated with this alteration, namely, the transfer of item 105 (a)(1) (b)(3) to item 105 (a) (1) (b) (1) and the reintroduction of item 105 (a) (5).

In the main, the remaining tariff changes are consequent on trade negotiations entered into by the Government. As a result of those negotiations, the intermediate tariff rates on gherkins, on vacuum flasks and on pianoaccordions have been reduced.

The final amendment relates to goods which are imported for repair, alteration or industrial processing in Australia and then returned to the country from which they were imported. Experience has shown that the provision in the item requiring the goods to be returned to the exporting country is too restrictive. It is therefore proposed to delete this provision and insert instead a requirement that the goods merely be reexported from Australia. This amendment will simplify administrative procedures.

I commend the proposal to honorable members.

Progress reported.

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