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Media Release G eoff Prosser M.P. FEDERAL M EMBER FOR FORREST

S h a d o w M in is te r f o r Sm all Business, H o u s in g a n d Customs.

i O

16 May 1991

CUSTOMS REPORT WELCOMED

The Federal Coalition has welcomed the final Report of the Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration into the Australian Customs Service.

Shadow Minister for Customs, Geoff Prosser, said today that the Report, "A Tour of Duties", vindicated the

Opposition's view that the Australian Customs Service was basically an efficient and well-run organisation.

However, the Report did raise two issues which have been of long standing concern to the Coalition.

"The first is the need for greater consistency in

classifying imported goods for tariff purposes. Different Customs Officers classify goods according to their own perception of the use of those goods.

"This had led to a widespread inconsistency in decision making and the unsavoury practice of "port shopping", whereby goods are imported through ports in which Customs officers are most likely to favourably view their goods."

To illustrate the inconsistencies and variations, Mr Prosser pointed to a case recently brought to his

attention.

"'Role-playing games', imported by a small business, were originally classified by an officer at a Brisbane port as 'books'. Some months later another officer at the same port classified them as 'articles for funfair, parlour or table-games' and applied a different rate of duty.

"An officer at a Sydney port classified them as 'books', as does the Australian Tax Office for sales tax purposes.

According to Mr Prosser this chopping and changing is expensive and time consuming for businesses.

"There is a great need for further investigation and elimination of this practice."

"The complexity of the classification system also means that there will be some unintentional misclassification of goods.

"It is appropriate that, in such cases,

imposed reflects the nature of the error." the penalty ' ~ coryTo n ν ,ΪΑ ΐτ ? F [

PARLIAMENTARY LMRARY j

2 .

Mr Prosser point to the sliding scale of penalties

recently adopted by the Australian Tax Office.

"The amount of the penalty levied by the ATO is dependent on the extent to which due diligence was not exercised."

Mr Prosser urged the Government to adopt this

recommendation and change the imposition of penalties arising from the incorrect classification of goods.

e nd. Canberra

CONTACT: Geoff Prosser - 06 277 4717 Karen Kuschert - 06 277 4717 - 06 286 5006