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Monday, 26 November 1973
Page: 3840

Mr DALY (Grayndler) (Minister for Services and Property) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The amendment to the Customs Act proposed by this Bill is designed to permit complete application of the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. I think the House will agree that I am in a new field tonight. The Minister for the Environment and Conservation, Dr Moss Cass, recently announced that the Australian Government had decided to sign the Convention. At that time the Minister foreshadowed amendments to customs legislation which would prohibit international trade in those species covered by the Convention. Contracting parties to the Convention are obliged to control importation or exportation of specimens to which the Convention applies. The import control is required to apply equally in respect of any such specimens which are introduced from the sea.

The authority, given respectively by sections 50 and 112 of the Customs Act, to prohibit by regulation the importation or exportation of goods provides adequate basis for the imposition of import and export restrictions in terms of the Convention. I hope that that is clear to the House. However, a somewhat anomalous position arises in that section 131a of the Customs Act specifically exempts from the control of the Customs fish and other produce of the sea landed by Australian-registered fishing boats operating out of Australian ports. It is necessary to qualify this provision to make it quite clear that exemption from the exercise of control by the Customs authorities does not apply in relation to any specimen of a marine species the importation of which is subject to prohibition or restriction under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations; that is, to conform with the provisions of the Convention. That should be clear to all honourable members. The Bill now before the House simply makes that necessary qualification. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Lynch) adjourned.

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