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Friday, 19 October 1984
Page: 2077

Senator BUTTON —On 9 October 1984 Senator Chaney asked me a question relating to a parcel addressed to the Chairman of World Series Cricket-

Senator Chaney —Procedures.

Senator BUTTON —Can I just have a go at finishing the answer? Senator Chaney asked me a question about a parcel directed to the Chairman of World Series Cricket, Mr Kerry Packer, and the procedures which were followed in the course of a particular situation, and whether they were normal practice. I undertook to have the matter investigated. The question particularly asked was: 'Was the practice referred to by Mr Packer in his statement a general practice?'. The position is that, except in relation to shipments of very low value on which no duty is payable, normal Australian Customs Service practice requires the importer to prepare a Customs entry or informal clearance document listing the goods imported and setting out details of any duty or sales tax payable. The form and the supporting documents from the overseas supplier are lodged with Customs for checking. An examination of packages may occur where a query arises during the documentary examination or where, for other reasons, Customs consider an examination is necessary.

The Australian Customs system which relies on documentary checking supported by selective and random physical examinations is similar to that used in most developed countries. The procedures are supported by an automatic data processing system which assists officers to evaluate information relevant to the documentary check and to determine shipments of particular risk. The Customs Act provides heavy penalties for Customs offences. Departmental papers show that the consignment in question was examined at the company's initiative to determine the nature of the contents since the company had no commercial documents from which to prepare the required Customs documentation. This system is available to all importers in similar circumstances and, I would add, in that circumstance, is normal.

Senator CHANEY(3.04) —by leave-I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Button) to a question without notice asked by Senator Chaney on 9 October 1984 relating to Customs procedures for the importation of goods.

The thrust of the question asked was not about the particular parcel but about the procedures that were disclosed in the statement which related to that parcel . I thank the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Button) for that answer which will now be able to be given careful consideration. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.