Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Amendment Bill 2018; Second Reading
That this bill be now read a second time.
The government is committed to bringing Australian border legislation into alignment with the country of origin labelling safe harbour defences under the Australian Consumer Law.
In 2017, the government enacted the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Country of Origin) Act 2017 to simplify and clarify the safe harbour defences under section 255 of schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act. This is part of our broader reforms on country of origin labelling. These defences enable a person to make a claim about the origin of the goods sold domestically without contravening the provisions of schedule 2.
These defences are currently not available to importers who are required to apply a trade description on goods proposed to be imported into Australia.
The Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Amendment Bill 2018 would amend the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905 to enable importers to make a claim about the origin of goods, similar to those permitted under the Australian Consumer Law, without contravening the offence against a false trade description.
The alignment would reduce the complexity of enforcing origin marking requirements at the border, allowing the Australian Border Force to focus compliance activities on goods that don't meet the safe harbour defences.
The bill would also insert an express head of power in the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act to enable the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Regulation 2016 to be amended to incorporate information standards that are in force or existing from time to time. This is currently not possible without an express head of power.
As information standards are amended from time to time, the bill will enable the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Regulation to be amended to automatically incorporate changes to information standards.
I commend the bill to the House.