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Tuesday, 21 May 1957

Mr POLLARD (Lalor) .- This measure amends the Customs Act 1901- 1954 and, generally speaking, is designed to facilitate customs administration, to simplify the examination of aeroplanes at their respectivelanding points in Australia, and to protect the revenue of the country. The Government's weight of numbers will undoubtedly result in the bill reaching the committee stage. We have been told that the Government then proposes to set up an obnoxious provision by removing the words " based upon reasonable grounds " from proposed new section 35a.

Mr Osborne - Does not the Opposition propose to support that amendment?

Mr POLLARD - We support the bill in the form in which it has been transmitted from the Senate. We want the administration of justice to be fair and reasonable. I realize exactly what I am doing. The measure has come to us with an amendment inserted by a majority of the Senate for the purpose of protecting the rights of citizens. Indeed, a Government supporter was the instigator of the amendment which has made the bill so much more acceptable, and Opposition members of the Senate supported that amendment to a man. The Government has foreshadowed an amendment designed to restore the measure to the state in which it reached the Senate. We shall examine that position in the committee stage.

In other respects, the Opposition takes no objection to the measure before us. . Protection of the revenue is desirable, as is the facilitation of customs procedure. I do not know of any more complicated department of government. That is no doubt inevitable and flows from the very nature of customs work. Therefore, anything that we can do to facilitate business transacted between the public and the department should be done. With the exception of the foreshadowed amendment, the Opposition will support the bill.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Clauses 1 to4 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.

Clause 5 -

After section thirty-five of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - " 35a. - (1.) Where a person who has, or has been entrusted with, the possession, custody or control of dutiable goods which are subject to the control of the Customs -

(a)   fails to keep those goods safely; or

(b)   when so requested by a Collector, does not account for those goods to the satisfaction of a Collector, based upon reasonable grounds, that person shall, on demand in writing made by a Collector, pay to the Commonwealth an amount equal to the amount of the duty of Customs which, in the opinion of the Collector making the demand, would have been payable on those goods if they had been entered for home consumption on the day on which the demand was made.

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