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Tuesday, 14 May 1985
Page: 1887


Senator HARRADINE(3.26) —I do not wish to reflect on a decision of the Senate. In fact, the decision of the Senate yesterday was to reject the proposition by the Opposition that there be an inquiry by a committee on a number of issues. I wish to take this opportunity at the Committee stage to point out to the Committee and to the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce (Senator Button) that the difficulties being experienced in the Australian Customs Service have led and are continuing to lead to blatant breaches of the law being allowed to go past.

The Senate Select Committee on Video Material heard a good deal of evidence about this matter. I know that the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Chaney, has referred to that. However, he did not refer to it in great depth, presumably because of the time limitations. I do not propose to do that now because I would probably be ruled out of order, but I wish to refer to the Committee by simply stating that on receipt of this evidence from not only the Customs Officers Association of Australia but also the Attorney-General's Department and the Australian Customs Service, the Senate Select Committee was able to say that the laws either are not being fully enforced or are not capable of being fully enforced. Specific recommendations touching on Customs were made which have not yet been given effect to. Because they have not been given effect to, material which by any standard, including the Government's standard, is material that cannot meet the reasonable adult person test and which the Government in regulation 4A wished to prohibit is able to come into this country. In fact, people who import this material are not able to be proceeded against.

Lest that give any encouragement to anybody to import such material, I understand that the Customs officers and the appropriate Customs people are keeping an eye on the matter. But, as has been said, it is a matter of resources and the state of the law. The state of the law in relation to regulation 4A of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations has been found by the Senate Select Committee to be deficient. The Committee's report detailed an actual example of what had occurred. I ask the Minister what steps are being taken by the Department to implement that recommendation and to ensure that the law is able to be enforced?