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Wednesday, 23 November 1910


Senator VARDON (South Australia) .- - I do not think that the Minister's explanation was very satisfactory. According to his own showing, there have been continual changes of the definition of "fancy box." Suppose a retailer wishes to import a quantity of pens.. He sends an order to England or Germany, asking that so many gross of pens shall be supplied to him, put up in attractive form. When the goods arrive here a Customs officer says, " Look here, this box that you are importing is a fancy box, and you will have to pay a duty of 30 per cent, upon it." I do not think that importers should be subjected to such treatment.


Senator Findley - They are riot. Fancy boxes are defined in the departmental booklet, and importers know exactly what the term means.


Senator VARDON - I wish to see persons who are importing goods governed by an Act of Parliament, and not left to the mercy of the Department. Senator Ready, out of his vast experience, has explained to us that such things as hooks and eyes are sometimes brought out in boxes that re- .semble a chest of drawers. He suggests that such boxes are of the fancy kind, and that, therefore, a higher duty ought to be charged on them. But, in such a case, the hooks and eyes, or hairpins, would be sold at an increased price on account of the fancy character of the box. My definition entirely covers that kind of case. I contend that this definition covers the whole of the ground desired by the Department. I am informed, though I have no personal knowledge on the subject, that it was suggested and acted upon by one of the Collectors of Customs. It cannot be denied that it is a reasonable definition, and under it importers and the officers of the Department would know just where they stood. A man ordering his goods, and giving his order in a certain way, would, under this definition, have no fear that he would afterwards be harassed by some Customs officer challenging him with having imported his goods in fancy boxes when he was under the impression that he was importing themin plain boxes. I understand from thestatement of the Minister that boxes with the name of the manufacturers on them, inwhich pencils and pens are ordinarily imported, are not considered fancy boxes, but the difficulty is that no one can tell, under existing conditions, what will be regarded, as a fancy box. In the absence of anybetter definition, I intend to press the definition I suggest to a division.







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