Bills Digest No. 156  1999-2000Customs Amendment (Alcoholic Beverages) Bill 2000

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Passage History
Main Provisions
Contact Officer & Copyright Details

Passage History

Customs Amendment (Alcoholic Beverages) Bill 2000

Date Introduced: 6 April 2000

House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Justice and Customs

Commencement: 1 July 2000


To amend the Customs Act 1901 to make certain prescribed alcoholic beverages subject to the same provisions that currently restrict the entry for home consumption of spirits in bulk containers.


A customs duty is a tax imposed on goods imported into, or exported out of, Australia. In contrast, an excise duty is a tax which is imposed on goods which are produced in Australia.(1) Where excise duties apply, customs tariffs are adjusted to ensure competitive neutrality between domestic and imported goods. Under section 90 of the Constitution, the power to impose customs and excise duties is reserved solely for the Commonwealth. Section 55 of the Constitution further requires that 'Laws imposing taxation, except laws imposing duties of customs or of excise, shall deal with the subject of taxation only; but laws imposing duties of customs shall deal with duties of customs only, and laws imposing duties of excise shall deal with duties of excise only'.

This Bill amends the Customs Act 1901 to ensure that imported products are subject to the same arrangements as similar locally manufactured excisable products. It mirrors changes in the Excise Amendment (Alcoholic Beverages) Bill 2000. Its intended effect is to bring all imported alcoholic beverages, other than those subject to the Wine Equalisation Tax (WET), within the Customs regime from 1 July 2000.(2) For background to the Government's changes to the taxation of alcoholic beverages, see the accompanying Bills Digest on the Excise Amendment (Alcoholic Beverages) Bill 2000.(3)

Main Provisions

The amendments in this Bill substitute the term 'customable beverage', which is defined in item 3, for the term 'spirit' in Part VA of the Customs Act 1901 (the Customs Act). Part VA deals with the importation of spirits in bulk containers.

Item 3 inserts into section 103 a definition of 'customable beverage' for the purposes of Part VA. A 'customable beverage' is defined to mean 'like customable goods' that are beverages, spirits and vinegars (as described in Chapter 22 of Schedule 3 to the Customs Tariff Act 1995 (Customs Tariff)), and have been prescribed. The expression 'like customable goods' is defined in section 69 of the Customs Act to mean goods that are imported into Australia and are subject to a rate of customs duty that is indexed to the rate of excise duty payable on domestic goods. (The Table in section 19 of the Customs Tariff itemises these goods.)

Item 9 gives the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Customs Service (CEO) the authority to permit certain alcoholic beverages to be entered for home consumption in bulk containers that have a capacity of more than 20 litres.(4) At present Customs regulations must be amended when a new volume bulk container is approved for use in the importation of customable beverages. According to the Explanatory Memorandum, this amendment will give the CEO flexibility to approve the entry of customable beverages in different sized bulk containers without the need to amend the regulations.(5) Item 11 allows the CEO's decision to be reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.


  1. The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia Annotated, Fifth edition by R.D.Lumb and G.A.Moens, Sydney, Butterworths, 1995, p. 438.
  2. Explanatory Memorandum, Customs Amendment (Alcoholic Beverages) Bill 2000, p. 2.
  3. See Bills Digest No. 155 1999-2000.
  4. Under section 68 of the Customs Act, goods may enter Australia for home consumption, for warehousing, or for transhipment.
  5. Explanatory Memorandum, Customs Amendment (Alcoholic Beverages) Bill 2000, p. 5.

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Rosemary Bell
19 May 2000
Bills Digest Service
Information and Research Services

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ISSN 1328-8091
© Commonwealth of Australia 2000

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Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 2000.

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