I've worked this out now, so for anyone else having a similar problem understanding the php array -> python list issue.
In actual fact the data I posted on my first post in this thread is a dictionary
, as far as Python is concerned, not a list.. to itterate through this dictionary in Python I did..
for key, value in shipment.iteritems():
print "Key: %s; Value: %s<br />" % (key, value)