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Wednesday, 23 July 1902

Mr KINGSTON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - There would be some force in the remarks of the honorable member if the telegram were true, but it is not. The only new direction given has been issued for the purpose of preventing the public from being led into error, and in order to secure to them the best advice as to the way in which they should make their entries. I found that some of my officers who were not competent to do so had been advising the public with results which ought, if possible, to be avoided. I therefore wrote the following minute : -

Confusion evidently arises from the loose practice which frequently prevails of every officer essaying to reply to inquiries by the public as to Tariff questions, and verbally. I desire that officers specially qualified be selected for this purpose, and that they will give their advice in writing in all cases, limiting it to declarations that in their opinion goods of certain descriptions - specifying them - are dutiable under specified Tariff items at specified rates. They will not initial any invoice until entry is duly made.

The result of this will be to secure to the public the best and most direct advice. Trouble has arisen in some cases, owing to the advice given, and it would be a great mistake to continue to allow every officer to give his opinion.

Mr V L SOLOMON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Surely every officer who is competent to receive an entry should be able to advise the public?

Mr KINGSTON - I think we have adopted the best course in placing our most competent officers at the disposal of the public, so that they may receive advice of a character that will admit of no doubt.

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