Wednesday, 7 February 2007
Customs Legislation Amendment (Border Compliance and Other Measures) Bill 2006
I accept the minister’s rebuttal. I was referring to non-government amendments that are moved in the chamber as opposed to those suggested by committees. I acknowledge for the record that the minister has been responsive to committee recommendations. Of course, responsiveness to committee recommendations depends on both the minister responsible for particular bills and the chairs of particular committees. Not all ministers are responsive to committees and not all chairs of committees are proactive in making recommendations and in trying to insist that the government attend to them. This particular minister deserves credit for positive reaction on a number of occasions. I would point out that, as the minister well knows, the chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs is a member of the government, in the broad sense of the meaning, and so I was accurate in my overall remarks. However, that does not mean that I should be ungracious to either the minister or his department in reacting positively in their approach.
I based my remarks on the clear knowledge that literally hundreds of amendments which were passed in the Senate, which were not necessarily derived from committee findings and which were previously accepted by the government when it did not have control of the Senate, have not been overturned by the government since it took control of the Senate because they have been found to be workable and effective. In most cases, the amendments that were accepted by the government in the House of Representatives were, on reflection, regarded as valuable contributions to change.
I do not claim great virtue with respect to my particular amendment at this time, but I do want to make the point that it seems odd to me that when the government had the opportunity before the Senate was in its control to ask the Senate to not insist on amendments, and many amendments were not insisted on, it still nevertheless accepted hundreds and hundreds of amendments which are in law and they have not been overturned or subsequently done away with. That is because they have been found to be sensible and to have substance. I am quite prepared to give the minister credit and, indeed, give credit to the government chair of the legal and constitutional affairs committee but, nevertheless, I think my general point applies. However, I will not detain the Senate any further. It is quite apparent, shadow minister, that the minister will not accept this amendment in either form, so I think we should just move on.
I move Democrat amendment (6) on sheet 5015 revised:
(6) Schedule 5, item 1, page 12 (line 7 and 8), omit the definition of accredited client, substitute:
accredited client means a party involved in the international movement of goods in whatever function that has been approved by or on behalf of a national Customs administration as complying with World Customs Organization or equivalent supply chain security standards, including manufacturers, importers, exporters, brokers, carriers, consolidators, intermediaries, ports, airports, terminal operators, integrated operators, warehouses and distributors.
This amendment is to the definition of ‘accredited client’. I noted that the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs did not choose to make a recommendation on the ACP or to take up the definitions proposed by those who made submissions to the committee. However, I think that the submissions had merit and the proposed amendment is designed with that in mind.
As the Law Council of Australia pointed out in its submission, the framework is intended to afford benefits to all interested parties in the supply chain, not simply those who have entered into an import information contract. This would extend to transport companies, customs brokers and freight forwarders. Therefore, I propose to extend the definition in the bill to cover all those other entities so they are able to take advantage of the Accredited Client Program.
Before I resume my chair, I would just like to remind the Senate that, although I have a long portfolio interest in Customs matters, as the minister and the shadow minister are aware, I have many other committee duties and, therefore, I am not a full member of the legal and constitutional committee. Neither am I able to attend all their committee hearings or meetings, as was the case with this bill. I probably do 50 or 60 inquiries a year through my other committees, and I work as hard as I can on those. In this case, although I was not able to attend the hearings, I have had regard to the submissions. We have made these amendments with those in mind.