Anti-Dumping Commission

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (15:02): My question is to the Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for Justice and Cabinet Secretary. Will the minister update the House on the progress in implementing the government’s plan to strengthen Australia’s antidumping regime and support our workers and manufacturers?

Mr CLARE (Blaxland—Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for Justice and Cabinet Secretary) (15:02): I thank the member for Throsby for his question. I know he has a very keen interest in this area. Australia is a great trading nation. Boosting trade is critical to our success. One of the things that can threaten that is dumping. Dumping is cheating, pure and simple. It is where goods are imported at less than their real cost. That can cost Australians their jobs. It can hurt Australian industry and it can undermine the confidence that we all have in free trade. That is why it is important that we have a strong independent umpire with the powers and the resources needed to make sure that people play by the rules. That is why today I have introduced legislation to establish the Australian Anti-Dumping Commission. In the last couple of years we have seen that the workload of our anti-dumping investigators has tripled. This has been driven by a weak global economy, the strong Australian dollar, and the presence of a lot of commodities out there looking for a market. The advice that I have from my department is that this is expected to continue.

Last year I asked John Brumby, the former Premier of Victoria, to provide me with advice on the best structure for Australia’s antidumping administration. He provided me with a number of recommendations. We have committed to implement all of them. The two major recommendations that he made were the establishment of this commission and the allocation of additional resources for these investigators. We will do this. We will allocate an additional $24 million over four years, which will mean that we will almost double the number of antidumping investigators. This has been backed by business and it has been backed by unions. Innes Willcox of the Australian Industry Group said of these reforms to the system that they:

…will strengthen its effectiveness, improve its administration and make anti-dumping procedures more accessible for all affected businesses.

They are important reforms, but more work is needed. In the next session I will introduce legislation to impose higher duties when rules are broken, increased infringement notice penalties and make it easier for antidumping duty to be applied retrospectively. These will, of course, comply with our WTO obligations. The purpose of all of this is to make sure that people play by the rules. To do that you need a strong, independent umpire with the powers and resources they need. That is what we are doing. The Australian Anti-Dumping Commission will help support Australian jobs, support Australian workers and help Australian industry. That is what this government is all about.