Wednesday, 7 February 2007
Customs Legislation Amendment (Border Compliance and Other Measures) Bill 2006
Minister, as you would obviously be aware, I have been following this matter for some time in a series of exchanges between you and me in respect of the Treasury costings of the original Accredited Client Program. At budget estimates last year, you said:
I will be watching the answers more closely than anyone, I can tell you!
It is a given that you have been following the proceedings. I had the opportunity to go to those estimates hearings and to at least ask questions of Treasury—although maybe as an aside I can say I think I like legal and cons better! When I asked about Treasury’s costings as to the original proposal for full duty deferral, the response was that Treasury ‘would have costed a number of options around that’. Is it the case that there are other options that might have been costed? As far as I am aware, there were only two options. There was the latest one, which was the one we have now that did not apparently require a costing, as I am advised, and of course there was the original proposal, which required a costing. You have indicated that there was a costing in the order of $89 million. The question is whether there were in fact any alternative options canvassed at that time. If so, is the minister able to say what those other canvassed options were?
The written answer that ultimately came back from Treasury stated that the government ‘does not generally provide details of the costings of proposals that are not government policy and which may or may not have been considered in the policy development process’. It would be remiss of me not to add that. That is what the answer from Treasury was, because I asked them those questions as well. I have asked whether the full duty deferral was actually considered in the policy development process, because Treasury do not appear to be so sure. Therefore, what I am also concerned about, Minister, is how hard this has been pressed if Treasury’s answers seem so inconclusive, if I can put it in that way. They are two questions for which I seek answers.