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Wednesday, 17 October 1956

Mr OSBORNE (EVANS, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Customs and Excise) - Yes, I am able to answer the honorable member's question now. I made careful inquiries of the Collector of Customs in New South Wales and the Sub-Collector in charge at Mascot. 1 find that there is no substance at all in the allegation of the captain of the aircraft to which the honorable member refers. The Department of Customs and Excise keeps customs officers at Mascot continually from 7 a.m. until 1 1 p.m., and will always provide them at other times at six hours' notice. No request to provide a customs officer before 7 a.m. was made on that occasion. The Department of Customs and Excise has no authority to prevent an aircraft from landing. On the occasion in question, if the aircraft was early, and as no request had been made for a customs officer to be present before 7 a.m., so far as my department is concerned, the captain could have landed although the passengers would then have had to await the arrival of a customs officer. I have also discovered that some twelve or fifteen aircraft-handling personnel employed by the operating company are required in connexion with the landing of a large aircraft, and the fact that the aircraft remained in the air for twenty minutes may be more closely associated with that requirement than with the need for a customs officer to be present.

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