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Thursday, 22 May 1980
Page: 3103

Mr HURFORD (Adelaide) -The Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Garland) has no grounds for rejecting anything. He was not in the chamber at the beginning of my remarks, so he did not know that I had put the matter totally into context before he came into the chamber. I explained that there had been 10 months- more than normal- of negotiations with the Customs agents' association. I gave the Government credit for that. I explained that even the Customs agents' association had received a copy of the Bill. I gave the Government credit for that. But I do not blame the Minister personally for the oversight. There was an oversight inasmuch as the Australian Duty Free Operators Association was not taken into consultations. Indeed, it did not approach the Opposition about the legislation until this Bill had received the publicity by being passed by this chamber. It is only since it has been passed by this chamber that these matters have been drawn to our attention. Jointly, we have come to the conclusion that there is harshness in the Customs Amendment Bill (No. 3) as it relates to people who run warehouses and their employees. Jointly we have come to our separate conclusions on that harshness.

The Government has moved a number of amendments in the Senate. It was only in relation to those amendments which were moved yesterday by the Government in the Senate that I said that the Opposition had not had time to consider them properly; nor had the Opposition had time to consider the extra representations which have been made by a number of other people. Representations have been made not only by the Duty Free Operators Association but also by the important Storemen and Packers Union of Australia which represents hundreds and hundreds of people working in warehouses and who are affected by this legislation. It was in relation to that matter that I said there had not been time to look at the Government's amendments and to compare them with what we considered would be adequate amendments to safeguard the civil liberties of those people running these warehouses and operating in them. I assert that all of the amendments of the Opposition have great merit. After I heard of the fate of the Government's amendments in the Senate and, indeed, the rejection of the Opposition's amendments in the Senate, at the first available opportunity I offered to explain those amendments to the Minister. I understand he did not have the time- he is a busy Minister- and I do not blame him for that.

Mr Garland - What time was that?

Mr HURFORD - I rang the Minister at 2.-30 this afternoon.

Mr Garland - What about all morning?

Mr HURFORD - I gather that the Minister was busy with other matters this morning. One would only have to follow the proceedings in this chamber this morning to know that there were matters to be dealt with other than this legislation that now concerns us. I had hoped that at least three of the seven amendments might be accepted. I have given reasons why I am not pursuing those three amendments. I suggest that the high and mighty attitude displayed by the Minister when making the remarks that we have just heard is not justified. In relation to these matters it is a pity that the Minister does not have more opportunity for taking decisions himself. It is pity that he did not find time, after I eventually got in touch with him, to look at the merits of the Opposition 's amendments. A number of Government senators and, I believe, a number of honourable members in this chamber would have supported these amendments had they had an opportunity to study them.

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