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Thursday, 3 May 1973
Page: 1713

Dr J F CAIRNS (Lalor) (Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry) - I move:

Export Tariff Proposals No. 8 (1973)

Export Tariff Proposals No. 9 (1973)

The Customs Tariff Proposals which I have just tabled relate to proposed amendments to the Customs Tariff to implement the Government's acceptance of the Tariff Board's recommendations on agricultural tractors and cherries. The changes operate from tomorrow. In its report on agricultural tractors the Tariff Board recommended assistance be accorded to the Australian manufacturing industry by means of a bounty payable on the production and sale of agricultural wheeled tractors having a power of 15 kilowatts or more at the power take-off. This recommendation has been accepted by the Government and will take effect from 4th May 1973. The Tariff Board has also recommended changes in the Agricultural Tractors Bounty Act 1966-1972 and legislation will be introduced during the present session of Parliament to implement these recommendations.

Honourable members are aware that the Agricultural Tractors Bounty Bill 1973 is currently before the House. The intention of that Bill is to extend the operation of the Agricultural Tractors Bounty Act 1966-1972 until 30th June 1973, or such earlier date as may be fixed by proclamation, to allow the Government to receive and consider the Tariff Board report on agricultural tractors. As the Government has now considered the report and accepted the Board's recommendations in relation to bounty I will be shortly asking the House to agree to discharging that Bill.

The Tariff Board in its report recommended that agricultural wheeled tractors having a power of 15 kilowatts or more, and derivatives of those tractors, be admitted free of duty. To comply with commitments to the New Zealand Government on preference tariff arrangements it is necessary for goods from countries other than New Zealand to be made dutiable at a rate of 5 per cent. Consultations will be held with the New Zealand Government to ascertain if they have an active trade interest and in the interim all imports of these goods will be admitted free of duty. On agricultural wheeled tractors having a power between 7.46 and 15 kilowatts the Board's recommendations have been accepted and the duty rate is to be increased from 71 per cent to 30 per cent. The Board recommended that existing duties be maintained on the remaining goods covered by the Board's report, including derivatives of agricultural wheeled tractors incorporated in or forming part of loading or excavation machinery, such as front end loaders or back hoes.

I turn now to the Tariff Board's report on cherries. The Board recommended that existing duties be maintained on fresh cherries. On brined cherries the Board recommended a duty of 30 per cent to be phased out over 3 years. On drained cherries the Board recommended a duty of 65 per cent to be reduced progressively over 4 years to 40 per cent. The

Board stated that the duties of 30 per cent on brined cherries and 65 per cent on drained cherries, that is the rates which will operate from tomorrow, approximate the current temporary duties. The Board based its recommendations for the gradual lowering of duties on a number of measures, which if implemented would result in considerable cost savings in the industry and allow the industry to operate at the proposed lower duty levels.

The Government has accepted the Tariff Board's report but has decided to establish a Government-Industry Panel to examine the practicability of the measures suggested by the Board and the industry's capacity to implement them fully and to assist the industry in accomplishing the changes involved. The panel will report to the Government prior to the first scheduled duty reduction. Honourable members will notice that the Board's recommended ad valorem rate for brined cherries has been qualified by the inclusion of an alternative rate of 13 cents per kilogram, if lower than the ad valorem rates. This was necessary to avoid a possible breach of Australia's international commitments. A comprehensive summary of the changes and duty rates is being circulated to honourable members. I commend the Proposals.

Debate (on motion by Mr Bonnett) adjourned.

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