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Thursday, 13 September 2018
Page: 6333


Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (13:01): The Customs Amendment (Incorporation of Proposals) Bill 2018 contains a number of small amendments to the Customs Tariff Act 1995. Labor will support this bill. These changes will: support businesses, including Australia's agricultural industry; ensure ongoing relations with Indonesia; and clarify the framework relating to tariffs. It has taken the out-of-touch Turnbull-Morrison government much longer than anticipated to implement these changes. Some of these commitments were first announced by the former Prime Minister and the President of the Republic of Indonesia on 26 February 2017, before being reannounced on 20 September 2017. Labor believe that any free trade agreement that Australia reaches with Indonesia should be in the best interest of Australian businesses, consumers and local workers. We urge the government to take the utmost due diligence.

This bill implements an early outcome of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. This bill brings forward the removal of customs duties for certain herbicides and pesticides from Indonesia. By bringing the removal of these duties forward, Indonesian pesticides and herbicides used by Australian farmers will be more competitive in the Australian market, offering greater choice to consumers. However, I urge the government to monitor any impacts of the removal of these duties, including ensuring that illegal or counterfeit pesticide products do not enter Australia.

The bill simplifies import reporting requirements for medicaments and placebos imported for use in clinical trials, with the aim to promote Australia as a destination for international clinical trials. The financial impacts of the bill before the house are minimal: a total of $3 million over the forward estimates period, with zero financial impact from the 2020-21 financial year onwards. Following these commitments from Australia, the Indonesian government has agreed to reduce customs duties on Australian sugar exports in return.

I am pleased that Indonesia's agreement has been welcomed by Australian sugarcane growers. Australia is the second-largest raw sugar exporter in the world, with countries in Asia, such as South Korea, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia, being some of the most important markets to which we export. The value of sugarcane production is worth $2.5 billion. Hopefully, these tariff changes that Indonesia has committed to will allow for further exports and for growth in revenue for an industry which is vital to Australia's economy.

Whilst it may take some time to see the economic benefits of Indonesia's tariff reduction, Labor welcomes the Indonesians' commitment because it means opportunities for Australian sugarcane growers. Labor will always hold the current government to account to ensure the complex and important tariff framework is clear and is functional. I urge the Liberal government to continue to work with their Indonesian counterparts to ensure the best possible trading environment for Australian businesses and consumers.