An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Not The Shipping News

Yesterday I finally shipped off my surplus cargo .. by plane. The original plan I highlighted had to be amended .. because of the cost! What a rort. For one cubic metre of cargo I was looking down the cost of exactly 3,782 kina (approx Au$1550) with a removalist company. Yeah, in their dreams.

So the amendment meant that I would ditch my clam shell. A shame but too bloody heavy. Besides I also decided to do some checking up about what the status was with these things being sent into Australia. This led me down the path of checking out the Australian Customs Service webpage and having a look at what is prohibited from being brought into Australia (a very confusing topic here, with many opinions, as anyone who has ever visited Australia probably has discovered).

On their prohibited and restricted imports page they give you a quick list (though still pretty long) of what you can't bring in (amusingly next to Chemical Weapons and Nuclear products, we have novelty erasers, novelty money boxes, the Australian flag and anything with ANZAC on it). This wasn't much help apart from informing me I needed to check with the Department of Environment and Heritage on what the story is with these shells.

On their site they state that anything already banned or requiring a permit under the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) would be restricted. I still wasn't sure if clam shells were covered or not and a quick look at the CITES website confirmed that I should just shoot an email off to DEH and ask them what the story was (I have no idea what the scientific name for the shell is).

Amazingly for a government department my email got a reply the next working day:
Dear JCD,

There is an exemption for up to 3 specimens of Giant Clam shell (not exceeding 3 kgs) for importation into Australia as personal baggage. However, if you wish to ship the specimen, then you will require a personal item CITES import permit from us. I have attached the application form. Please note that you will need to provide information in your application that satisfies us that it was leagally aquired.



My shell was not going to be covered by personal baggage and under 3 kilos. Also the "leagally[sic] aquired[sic]" was a bit of a worry (though this confirmed that even in the Australian public service they are lazy spell checkers). I bought it off some Telikom guy in Lorengau, Manus for 20 kina. He didn't write a receipt. A bit more of an examination of the form and it became apparent that I also needed to get an export permit from PNG customs as well and I needed all this done before I got the import permit from DEH which in itself was going to cost $30, and they take credit card, but my credit card has expired .. anyway it was all a bit much. The shells can stay in their country of origin.

So the end result was that I ended up with two plywood boxes which in themselves weigh a lot and just personal effects to send back. I decided to ring Air Niugini and find out more about something others have told me about .. unaccompanied luggage. They gave me a per kilo price and then the on top fee prices and this definitely sounded like the go.

So yesterday I loaded up the repacked four cardboard boxes (plywood ones can stay as well) in the work vehicle and headed off to town to a courier company. I wanted to get it weighed there and see what they could do it for (too much of course). The total weight they gave me was 74, so next stop was the bank and then out to the airport.

Out at the Air Niugini cargo desk I got it weighed again and was surprised to find their scales giving me a total weight of 60 kilos. I didn't say anything, though was thinking the couriers were a bunch of dodgy dealers with dodgy weights, not unlike that bad dude in Karate Kid II, with the weights made of foam (I should go back and smash ice bricks and save the cute Japanese girl from them .. honour!).

So to cut a long (and a bit boring) story short the total cost of sending it as unaccompanied baggage turned out to be K600. Much more reasonable.