This Digest is prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as
introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments.
This Digest was available from 21 May 1996
Date introduced: 6 May 1996
Portfolio: Small Business and Consumer
Commencement: This Act will be deemed to commence
on 1 July 1995.
The Bill will correct a number of anomalies in the Customs
and Excise Legislation Amendment Act 1995 (CELA Act) and
continue the diesel fuel rebate for the mining of limestone used to
combat soil acidity.
CELA contained a number of amendments to restrict the
availability of the diesel fuel rebate. The diesel fuel rebate was
introduced in 1982 to replace a scheme that was in place since
1959. The 1959 scheme exempted off road users from paying duty on
diesel fuel and was replaced by the current scheme due to abuse of
the exemption scheme. The current scheme originally aimed to repay
diesel fuel duty in respect of all off-road usage of diesel fuel,
although eligibility criteria has been tightened to prevent abuse
of the scheme.
In 1994-95, 213 000 claims were paid on behalf of approximately
110 000 claimants at a cost of $1.25 billion.(1)
It was announced in the 1995-96 Budget that the eligibility
criterion for the rebate would be further tightened, with both the
agricultural and mining industries being affected. The measures
were implemented by CELA. While there were concerns about the
reduction of the eligibility for the rebate proposed in that Bill,
most concern related to various measures that would have
retrospective activity. Many of the retrospective measures were
removed prior to the Bill passing Parliament and receiving the
Other concerns related to the removal of limestone mining from
the categories of activity eligible for the rebate, additional
costs for the off-shore oil exploration and the effect on
mainstream mining operations. Together with the changes to the
retrospective action of various parts of the CELA Bill, further
amendments were made to redress some of these concerns.
As a result, the CELA Bill was substantially amended in the
Senate (the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill states that there
were 80 amendments successfully moved in the Senate). Due to the
number of amendments and the short time in which they were made, a
number of errors were contained in the CELA Act, particularly in
regard to the operation of the proposed retrospective action of the
Bill and the definitions of the industries to be effected. The
problems were addressed in the Customs and Excise Legislation
Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1995 (CELA2), which lapsed on the
dissolution of Parliament for the 1996 General Election.
The provisions of this Bill are substantially the same as in
CELA2 was referred to the Senate Economic Legislation Committee,
which delivered its report in October 1995. The Report states:
During the course of the debate concerning [CELA] a number
of successful amendment were moved. However, in the process of
translating the will of Parliament into a final Royal Assent Bill,
a number of transcription errors occurred. In addition, several
substantive problems with the commencement and savings provisions
of the CELA Act have been identified which are contrary to the
expressed intention of the Senate.(2)
The Minority Report by members of the then Opposition expressed
concern and proposed amendments regarding the withdrawal of the
diesel fuel rebate relating to:
- limestone mining as it would increase the cost of lime used to
combat soil acidity; and
- increased costs to the off-shore oil exploration industry.
The Minority Report also expressed concern about potential
inflexibility of the new rules, particularly in relation to mining
The Bill restores the rebate for the mining of limestone to
combat soil acidity.
The diesel fuel rebate scheme was examined by the Australian
National Audit Office in it's Report No. 20 of 1995-96. Amongst its
Key Findings the Report states:
- The objectives of the scheme remain unclear. This impedes any
assessment of how effective the annual expenditure of $1.25 billion
is in achieving the Government's policy aims;
For some years after the last audit , the criteria for
eligibility under the scheme remained complex and ill defined. This
had the effect of broadening the scheme (particularly through high
numbers of Administrative Appeals Tribunal and Court decisions),
increasing the likelihood of incorrect payments being made under
the scheme. However, legislative amendments aimed at addressing
major concerns took effect on 1 July 1995 [ie. CELA].(4)
The main provisions of the Bill, which are contained in Schedule
1, address the law to be applied to appeals against decisions
refusing the diesel fuel rebate. As CELA currently stands,
applications before courts and tribunals are to be determined
according to the legislation as amended by CELA.
Item 5 of the Schedule 1 provides that, where
an application for the rebate has been made before CELA took effect
(1 July 1995), or an appeal has been made regarding the payment of
the rebate before that date, the law to be used in relation to such
matters is that which applied before CELA was enacted.
The other major amendment contained in the Bill will continue
the diesel fuel rebate for mining operations for 'agricultural use
limestone' The Schedule to the Bill amends a number of provisions
of the CELA Act to continue eligibility for the rebate to mining
operations for limestone used in deacidification of soil used for
agricultural activities .
(1) Australian National Audit Office, Report No. 20 1995-96, p.
(2) Senate Economic and Legislation Committee, Report on CELA2,
October 1995, p. 1.
(3) Ibid., pp. 24, 25.
(4) Australian National Audit Office, Report No. 20 1995-96, p.
Chris Field Ph. 06 277 2439
20 May 1996
Bills Digest Service
Parliamentary Research Service
This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other
sources should be consulted to determine whether the Bill has been
enacted and, if so, whether the subsequent Act reflects further
PRS staff are available to discuss the paper's contents
with Senators and Members and their staff but not with members of
Commonwealth of Australia 1996
Except to the extent of the uses permitted under the
Copyright Act 1968, no part of this publication may be
reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including
information storage and retrieval systems, without the prior
written consent of the Parliamentary Library, other than by Members
of the Australian Parliament in the course of their official
Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library,
This page was prepared by the Parliamentary Library,
Commonwealth of Australia
Last updated: 21 May 1996
Back to top