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Thursday, 22 May 1980
Page: 3101

Mr HURFORD (Adelaide) -The Customs Amendment Bill (No. 3) passed through the House of Representatives a few days ago. We were told at the time that there had been full consultation with all interested parties. Regrettably, that has proved not to be so. Those affected by the warehousing provisions of this Bill were not consulted. They have subsequently been in touch not only with me and some of my colleagues but also with the Government. I should explain that the Customs agents were given 10 months to consult with the Government and were given the draft Bill, but somehow the Australian Duty Free Operators Association was not brought into the arrangements for consultation, although it was grievously affected by provisions in the Bill. I do not wish to be misrepresented or misunderstood on this question. As I said earlier, the Association got in touch with me, the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Garland) and others in recent days. I am glad to see the Minister now in the chamber so that he is able to put his interpretation on this matter.

The complaints and charges of the Australian Duty Free Operators Association, which have been substantiated by many honourable members on both sides of the chamber, were that its civil rights had been trampled on. As has now been noted, from the Association's point of view there are some quite horrific requirements for the keeping of personal records and the divulging of personal information. The Government came up with some amendments in the Senate. Regret- ttably, they are so numerous and some of them are so small that they have not even been read to the Committee. If they were read, anybody listening would be very bored. They were moved in total in the way that the Minister, who is at the table, has just moved them. I assert on behalf of the Opposition that, from our study of this important subject, the amendments do not go far enough. We know that the Government has attempted to correct the original deficiencies, and for that I give it credit. In the short time the Opposition has had to examine these last minute amendments, it seems, I repeat, that they do not go far enough to safeguard the normal civil rights of people conducting warehouses.

In the Senate last night the Opposition moved seven amendments, which some Government senators supported. Whether they did so by their votes I am not sure because, as honourable members in this chamber know, we do not yet have the advantage of being able to read the Senate Hansard, or House of Representatives Hansard, which covers the period of the sitting late last night and early this morning when those seven amendments were moved. I have had verbal information from one or two Government senators to the effect that they support at least two or three of the Opposition's amendments. I did the right thing. I got in touch with the Minister and said how much I hoped he would accept at least two or three of the seven amendments. He explained to me that because it was the last sitting day in this session, he did not have time to take the amendments to the relevant committees of the Cabinet to pursue the matter in the way that he would want to.

Mr Garland - Thank you for that! I will remember that when I am speaking to you on the phone next.

Mr HURFORD - I did not realise that that was confidential information. I apologise if it was. The Minister certainly should have said so if it was. I cannot understand why it would be confidential information. I am explaining why I readily accept the attitude which the Minister expressed to me prior to our coming into this chamber. That, indeed, is the only reason why I am not pressing the amendments right now. I do draw everyone's attention to the amendments which will appear in the Senate Hansard, when it is available. I will not take up the time of the House by repeating those amendments for the reasons which the Minister has given to me which I understood would be made public. I do hope nevertheless that the Minister will look at the amendments moved in the Senate. Indeed, I will follow up, in writing to him, the details of those amendments. I hope he will take back to the Cabinet committees, to the Government parties, to this chamber and to the Senate at the earliest opportunity during the Budget session, more safeguards for the civil liberties of people who are affected by this legislation.

Although one or two of the Government's amendments which have just been moved do clear up some points that were in conflict with or harsh on the people concerned, similar problems in other clauses of the Bill we believe have been overlooked. I will not go into the details now. I do have strong objections to the fact that we have to deal with this legislation at the last minute, on the last day of this session. However, there is much in the Bill that makes it advisable for us to see it passed. I hope and trust that we will have another opportunity of clearing up the outstanding matters very soon.

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