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Thursday, 18 October 1984
Page: 1969

Senator CHANEY —My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of his sensitivity yesterday, I assure him that I do not ask this question in any pejorative sense. I refer the Minister to the question I asked last week, on 9 October, concerning Australian Customs Service procedures described by Mr Kerry Packer; namely, that it was usual for officials at Sydney Airport to ring Australian Consolidated Press for advice as to the contents of parcels addressed to that company. I note the Minister's comment that he was unaware of the practice and that it was not a general procedure. Is he now in a position to provide the more detailed answer that he promised last week, particularly in respect of whether he considers this practice to be adequate and acceptable?

Senator BUTTON —I confess that last week Senator Chaney's question took me by surprise. I was not familiar with even the circumstances to which he was referring. I have subsequently seen a reference to those circumstances in the newspapers. These events to which the Press publicity referred occurred, I think , in 1978. Following Senator Chaney's question to me last week I directed the Department of Industry and Commerce to conduct a speedy inquiry into the matter and to let me know the results of that inquiry as soon as possible. I have not yet received them but I will certainly see that the matter is expedited and provide an answer as soon as possible.