House of Representatives

Customs Legislation Amendment (Border Compliance and Other Measures) Bill 2007

Second Reading Speech

Mr Ruddock (Attorney-General)

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill, the Customs Legislation Amendment (Border Compliance and Other Measures) Bill 2006, contains amendments to the Customs Act 1901 that deal with a range of matters.

These amendments relate to:

the disposal of dangerous goods;
the restriction of the access of security identification card holders to section 234AA places, ships, aircrafts and wharves;
minor corrections to provisions implementing the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement;
the provision of information in respect of security identification cards to Customs;
the implementation of the Accredited Client Program;
the protection from criminal responsibility of Customs officers handling narcotic goods in the course of duty; and
remaking a misdescribed amendment to the Customs Act.

This bill enables the Chief Executive Officer or a regional director of Customs to dispose of any seized goods, if they are satisfied that the retention of those goods poses a danger to public health and safety. The bill extends the existing authority to dispose of certain seized vessels, live animals and perishable goods.

This bill also enables Customs officers to issue a direction to security identification cardholders not to enter or to be in a restricted access area.

Amendments in this bill will allow authorised officers of Customs to obtain from an issuing authority updates of required identity information in relation to the security identification cards issued by that issuing authority, including expiration and revocation of cards.

This bill makes minor technical amendments to provisions relating to the determination of whether goods imported into Australia are US-originating goods and thereby eligible for preferential rates of duty.

This bill also makes amendments to the accredited client program which allows for highly compliant importers to take delivery of goods after providing Customs with minimal information in a request for cargo release on condition that they provide full details on all the goods they import in each month on a periodic declaration.

The program will be amended to require these importers to pay a monthly duty estimate based on anticipated imports for each month under the program. This estimate is then reconciled with the customs duty payable on the goods actually imported in the relevant months.

Finally, this bill provides protection from criminal responsibility to Customs officers who possess, convey or facilitate the conveyance of prohibited imports, prohibited exports or smuggled goods in the course of their duties. Similar protections currently exist but do not apply to narcotic goods. This bill ensures that the new protections apply in relation to narcotic goods.

I commend the bill to the House and table the explanatory memorandum.

Debate (on motion by Ms Roxon) adjourned.