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Tuesday, 21 August 1984
Page: 6


Senator PETER RAE —My question is directed to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Is the Australian Customs Service conducting an investigation into the implications of the Black Report on an Inquiry into the Circumstances Surrounding the Making of a Customs Declaration-the Young affair-and on its ability to enforce compliance with declarations about the contents of baggage? Is the Minister aware of the concern of Customs officers that, in accepting Mr Young's defence of not knowing, Mr Black, and by its acceptance of the Black report, the Government, have challenged the long-standing concept that the onus should be on the person making a declaration to be aware of the contents of his or her baggage? Does not this interpretation mean that a person could claim no knowledge of a quantity of drugs contained in unaccompanied baggage and be regarded nevertheless as innocent? Finally, bearing in mind the recommendations of the report of the Mahony Review of Customs Administration and Procedures and the apparent inability of the seventh most senior Federal Cabinet Minister to handle a form which thousands of lesser mortals have to cope with every day, is consideration being given to redesigning baggage declarations or perhaps the possibility of a special simplified form for Australian Labor Party Ministers?


Senator BUTTON —Following the publication of the report of the Black inquiry an investigation, if that is the correct word, is being conducted by the Australian Customs Service into the appropriateness of the form which passengers complete, whether it be in respect of accompanied or unaccompanied baggage. The outcome of that investigation or inquiry will be known in due course. I think the Senate will be aware that Mr Black in his report made some comments about that form. That matter is being investigated. No other matter to which Senator Rae referred in his question is being investigated by the Customs Service.