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Thursday, 22 May 1969

Senator SCOTT (Western AustraliaMinister for Customs and Excise) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

This Bill proposes amendments to the Schedule to the Excise Tariff 1921-1969. The purpose of these amendments is to enact, as from 28th March 1969, reduced rates of excise duty on canned apricots, peaches and pears and mixtures thereof. The reductions proposed are from 30c per dozen 29 oz cans to 5c per dozen 29 oz cans with equivalent reductions for other can sizes.

An excise on these commodities entered for consumption within Australia was introduced in 1963 to ensure to the Australian Canned Fruits Board sufficient funds for export development to assist the canned fruit, industry in disposing of the increasing supplies of fruit then becoming available. The level of excise rate to apply is decided from time to time after consideration of recommendations in this respect from the Board. The funds have been used effectively since the introduction of the measure. As the international : marketing situation developed over .this period, however, there was increasing use of these funds in the form of market development allowance payments to canners exporting to markets such as West Germany. This led to friction with a major competitor - the United States of America - and an agreement was reached with the United States last year that the payment of market development allowances would be discontinued in 1969 in certain significant markets for the chief variety exported, that is, canned peaches.

Australian industry representatives participated fully in the discussions leading to this agreement. One effect of the agreement is that the Board will require considerably less funds in 1969 than it has needed formerly in order to meet its commitments. Against this background the Board reviewed its need for revenue from the excise and decided that a significant reduction in the level was warranted. The Government has accepted that recommendation.

There has been a greater degree of consultation between the main competitor countries in the canned fruit export field since the discussions with the United States last year. Two meetings already have been held with United States and South African industries and more will follow with the objective of exploring areas of possible cooperation between the industries in the development of export markets. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.

Debate (on motion by Senator Poyser) adjourned.

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