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House of Representatives

Customs and AusCheck Legislation Amendment (Organised Crime and Other Measures) Bill 2013

Explanatory Memorandum

(Circulated by authority of the Minster for Home Affairs, the Hon Jason Clare MP)


This Bill will mitigate vulnerabilities in Australia's aviation and maritime sectors that can be exploited by organised crime through measures, which are included in this Bill, to strengthen access controls to Customs places, information and systems and secure areas of ports, wharves and airports. It will also amend the eligibility requirements for membership of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (PJC-ACLEI) to make them more consistent with similar statutory committees.

Two recent reports have highlighted organised crime threats and vulnerabilities in the maritime and aviation sectors: the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement (PJCLE) 2011 report following its Inquiry into the adequacy of aviation and maritime security measures to combat serious and organised crime , and a 2012 report prepared by Joint Task Force Polaris that examined criminality in the Sydney maritime environment.

Issues identified by Polaris and the PJCLE report include:

concerns about particular individuals having access to restricted zones at airports and seaports
individuals using access to cargo movement information to track illicit goods and providing that information to criminal groups, and
individuals accessing containers in terminals to collect illicit goods for criminal groups.

This Bill amends the Customs Act 1901, AusCheck Act 2007 and Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act 2006 (LEIC Act). It contains measures to:

strengthen the cargo supply chain against criminal infiltration, through:

the creation of new obligations on cargo terminal operators and cargo handlers
the creation of new offences for using information from the Integrated Cargo System (ICS) to aid a criminal organisation, and
the adjustment of existing controls and sanctions under the Customs Act to increase their utility

introduce the power for the Secretary of the Attorney-General's Department to suspend Aviation and Maritime Security Identification Cards (ASICs and MSICs), or processing of applications for ASICs or MSICs, if the cardholder or applicant has been charged with a serious offence, and
remove the prohibition on the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and Deputy President of the Senate being members of the PJC-ACLEI.


Schedules 1 and 2 will strengthen the Government's ability to prevent and disrupt national security threats, particularly serious and organised crime, in the aviation and maritime industries and the supply chain.

Schedule 1 will seek to strengthen the cargo supply chain against criminal infiltration by amending the Customs Act to:

place obligations on cargo terminal operators and those that load and unload cargo, which are similar to those that the Customs Act imposes on holders of depot and warehouse licences
create new offences for using Customs information to commit or aid criminal activity,
provide that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Customs and Border Protection can consider the refusal, suspension or cancellation of an ASIC or MSIC when determining whether the person is fit and proper under the Customs Act
align aspects of the customs broker licensing scheme with that of depots and warehouses, including providing the CEO of Customs and Border Protection with the power to impose new licence conditions at any time and making it an offence to breach certain licence conditions, and
adjust other controls and sanctions in the Custom Act, including increasing penalties for certain strict liability offences and the offences in section 234, and improving the utility of the infringement notice scheme, by for example, increasing the relevant penalties.

Schedule 2 will amend the AusCheck Act to allow the suspension of a person's ASIC or MSIC where the card holder has been charged with a serious offence. It will also preclude a person from being issued an ASIC or MSIC while the person is charged with a serious offence. These amendments will ensure that individuals charged with serious offences involving conduct demonstrating they could pose a high security or organised crime risk are excluded from secure areas of airports and seaports pending resolution of the charge.

Schedule 3 will amend the LEIC Act to make membership eligibility for the PJC-ACLEI consistent with Parliamentary committees with similar functions, including the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.


The costs of implementing the amendments to the AusCheck Act will be fully cost recovered through an increase in application fees for ASICs and MSICs. The amount of this increase will be determined as part of AusCheck's regular Cost Recovery Impact Statement (CRIS) process. The fee increase will be applied in the first CRIS cycle following the commencement of the Bill.

The amendments in this Bill will not apply to any other schemes for which AusCheck undertakes background checks under the AusCheck Act

Other items will have little or no impact on Government revenue.

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