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Tuesday, 28 May 1968

The Customs Tariff Proposals which I have just tabled make changes to the Customs Tariff in accordance with the recommendations of the Tariff Board in its report on ceramic tableware. In March 1967 temporary duties were imposed on tableware, following a report by the Special Advisory Authority. They were introduced to meet the competition of large quantities of tableware from mainland China. The Tariff Board has now found that some of this competition was due to invoicing irregularities. The Department of Customs and Excise has commenced an investigation aimed at preventing further irregularities.

The Board has recommended that the industry producing ceramic tableware should continue to be assisted with rates of 30% general and 20% preferential. It has also recommended an alternative specific rate of 5c per piece general and 5c per piece less 10% preferential on relatively low priced articles. The Board expressed some doubts about the economic worth of producing hotel tableware in Australia, but recommended continued assistance at the level proposed for the industry as a whole.

The Tariff Board has also proposed that the industry be again examined in three years time. The Government has adopted the duties recommended by the Board but has decided, having regard to the circumstances of the industry and to the doubts on the economic worth of producing hotel tableware in Australia, that the industry be again reviewed in two years time.

Also included in the proposals is an amendment according for the first time concessions in respect of personal effects and baggage brought back by returning Australian crew members of civil aircraft and ships of the merchant marine. These persons will now receive once a year a concession already available to passengers coming to Australia. A summary of the changes made by these Proposals is being circulated amongst honourable members for their information. I commend the Proposals.

Debate (on motion by Dr J. F. Cairns) adjourned.

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