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Wednesday, 30 August 1972
Page: 580

Senator MURPHY asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:

(1)   Is it a fact that the Customs Officers' Association of Australia (Fourth Division) complained to the Minister about the manner of investigation of one of their Sydney members on an allegation of stealing, which was modified to one of attempted stealing, and was never pursued.

(2)   Is it also a fact that on 17th November 1971 at Mosman, New South Wales, a general warrant was used by, a customs officer to search private premises for evidence of an alleged attempt to steal morney from a container ship, ACT 3, and was the member subsequently charged with only a breach of section 33 of the Customs Act in regard to an unrelated matter of a pair of binoculars, which arose as a result of the search.

(3)   What are thi: grounds of complaint by the Association, what investigation of them has taken place, and what remedial action, if any, has been taken.

Senator COTTON - The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   The Customs Officers' Association of Australia (Fourth Division) complained to the Minister for Customs and Excise about a departmental investigation involving one of ils members. The investigation followed an allegation by a seaman that a Customs officer hud attempted to steal money from an overseas vessel.

(2)   Customs Investigating Officers visited the residence of a departmental officer on 17lh November 1971. His wife invited them to look around the premises. Thus, a warrant was not used. A pair of binoculars was found and it was established that these had been unlawfully removed from an overseas vessel The officer concerned was charged with an offence under Section 33 of the Customs Act in relation to the binoculars.

(3)   The Customs Officer's Association complained about the conduct of the investigation. Extensive enquiries were made into the complaint by senior officers of the Department. The Minister for Customs and Excise after full consideration of all reports informed the Association he could not agree that there were grounds for its complaint.

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