Bills Digest no. 39 1976
Customs Tariff Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1976
This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as
introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest
does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be
consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the
Contact Officer & Copyright Details
Customs Tariff Amendment Bill (No.
Date introduced: 4 November
House: House of Representatives
To amend the Customs Tariff Act 1966
for tariff changes made in Customs Tariff Proposals Nos. 7 to 22
(1976) since the passing of the Customs Tariff Amendment Act 1976
The Bill contains seventeen
schedules, 16 of which set out the changes to be made in individual
tariff items in various Schedules of the Customs Tariff Act 1966.
The changes are given retrospective legal effect to dates as early
as 1 January 1976. Proposals Nos. 7 to 13 had been temporarily
validated beyond the end of the Autumn session of Parliament by
Customs Tariff Validation Act 1976.
In the main the changes give effect
to decisions by the Government in respect of the following reports
of the Industries Assistance Commission and the Temporary
Aluminium and Articles Thereof, etc.;
Cellulose Acetate Flake;
Commercial Motor Vehicles, Parts and Accessories;
Filament, Fluorescent and Other Discharge Lamps;
Knitted and Woven Apparel;
Motor Vehicles Import Restriction;
Other Electronic Equipment;
Paints, Varnishes and Lacquers;
Precision Ground Steel Ball Bearings;
Railway and Tramway Locomotives, Rolling Stock, etc.;
Spectacle and Sunglass Frames, Sunglasses;
Welding Consumables and Flux Cored Solder;
Sheets and Plates of Iron and Steel; and
The last four reports named were
those made by the Temporary Assistance Authority.
The Bill also contains changes
resulting from the biennial review of the system of tariff
preferences for developing countries, In most cases rates of duty
on goods qualifying for tariff preference have been reduced.
However, certain imports have been excluded from tariff preference
where imports from developing country suppliers are causing or
threatening injury to local industry. (clauses 3 5).
The Minister has made available a
summary of the tariff amendments which gives a comparison between
the new and the old rates. On a superficial examination, there seem
to be more increases than decreases. Some of the items shown
require no change in duties but the specification of the item has
to be redrafted to fit in with changes to related items.
CUSTOMS TARIFF AMENDMENTS LEGISLATIVE PROCESS
Changes in the tariff schedule are
usually put into operation by administrative action, and later
validated by legislation. The process is described in more detail
Tariff changes may be put into
operation, when Parliament is sitting, by the introduction of a
Customs Tariff Proposal in the House of Representatives. The House
is technically free to debate the proposal but, by long standing
practice, debate is usually adjourned and never resumed. If
Parliament is not sitting, the changes may be put into operation by
the publication in the Gazette of an intention to propose, which
must be later introduced in the House of Representatives within
seven days after it resumes.
The introduction of the Proposals
does not change the tariffs in the Customs Tariff Act.
However, under Section 226 of the Customs Act 1901, customs
officers collecting the duties at the new rates proposed in
Parliament are protected from legal proceedings until the end of
either six months or the session of Parliament in which the
proposal was made, whichever happens first.
Before this period expires, the
changes have to be incorporated in legislation. In cases where the
Government is unable to prepare in time the legislation to amend
the Customs Tariff Act it may temporarily cover itself by
having a Customs Tariff Validation Act passed. This is a
machinery measure which takes over from section 226 pending the
introduction of a Customs Tariff Amendment Bill which formally
enacts the tariff proposals. For example, the Customs Tariff
Validation Act 1976, introduced on 2 June and assented to on 9 June
1976, gave legal authorisation to customs duties collected up to 31
December 1976 under the various Proposals introduced on 8 & 29
April, 18 & 27 May and 1 June 1976.
There is usually no debate on the
Validation Acts also have a limited
life and ultimately the changes must be incorporated in amendments
to the schedules to the Customs Tariff Act (formerly known simply
as the Customs Tariff). Customs Tariff Amendment Bills are
normally introduced once or twice a year, consolidating all the
Proposals introduced since the previous Customs Tariff Amendment
The second reading of the Custom s
Tariff Amendment Bill is normally the opportunity to debate the
policy measures. However, since it sometimes comes more than a year
after the actual changes were implemented and may include a number
of widely different proposals, consideration of the individual
measures is in practice often rather sketch.*
To assist the Parliament, the
Minister now provides separately a summary of the tariff amendments
which show a comparison between the new and old rates of duty.
* Some Members of Parliament have commented on the process for
tariff amendments, for example, in the following speeches in
Hansard for the House of Representatives:
Hon. C.R. Kelly, 5 December 1973 (P. 4321 2), 4 June 1975 (P.
Mr. M.J. Young, 29 April 1976 (P. 1784), 3 June 1976 (P. 2948
Finance, Industries, Trade and Development
11 November 1976
Bills Digest Service
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© Commonwealth of Australia 2006
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