CUSTOMS DUTY WHETHER GOODS IMPORTED OR ISSUED FROM BOND FOR NAVAL DEPOT AND ROYAL NAVY SHIPS ARE DUTIABLE
CUSTOMS TARIFF 1908
It having been brought to the notice of the Auditor-General that articles imported by and for the use of the British Navy or issued from bond for consumption on board His Majesty's ships or the Naval Depot in Sydney are being allowed free of duty, he asked the Comptroller-General for information why the imports and issues from bond referred to are being allowed free of duty. In reply the Comptroller-General informed him that the property of the King is free of duty and that an Act imposing duties of Customs cannot affect such property unless there be a distinct provision to the contrary.
The Auditor-General now asks for my opinion upon the question whether the reply of the Comptroller-General is a correct exposition of the law as bearing upon imports and issues from bond for the use of the Army and Navy.
In an opinion given on 12 May 1902(1), on the subject of entry clearance and payment of duty in the case of troopships and men-of-war, Mr Attorney-General Deakin expressed the opinion that the provisions of the Customs Act as to entry and clearance, and duty on stores consumed on board, do not apply to British men-of-war or public vessels of the King (for definition see Hall, International Law, chapter III), and that according to the principles of international law they ought not to be extended to men-of-war or other public vessels of foreign states and that this has been the general practice in Australia.
The principles on which Mr Deakin's opinion is founded are equally as applicable to the Customs Tariff as they are to the Customs Act.
I am of opinion therefore that the allowance of imports free of duty and the issue of stores from bond free of duty for the ships of the Royal Navy and for the Naval Depot used in connection with those ships is proper.
As this opinion covers the only point arising from the facts it is unnecessary for me to express any opinion on the correctness of the Comptroller-General's view of the law.(2)
[Vol. 6, p. 376]
(1) Opinion No.62.
(2) This opinion was published in Commonwealth of Australia, Parl. Papers 1908, Vol. II, p. 1076.