House of Representatives

Customs Amendment Bill 2014

Second Reading Speech

Mr Morrison (Minister for Immigration and Border Protection)

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Customs Amendment Bill 2014 is an omnibus bill that proposes a number of minor changes to the Customs Act 1901, known as the Customs Act.

Firstly, the bill will amend the Customs Act to extend Customs powers of examination to the baggage of domestic travellers on international flights and voyages, and to domestic cargo that is carried on an international fight or voyage. Domestic travellers and their personal effects and domestic cargo are often carried on domestic legs of international flights or voyages between Australian ports or airports and places other than proclaimed ports and airports by approved ships and aircraft.

There is a serious vulnerability that dutiable or prohibited goods will be transferred where domestic travellers on international flights can access the sterile areas of airports and mix with international travellers during embarkation and disembarkation processing. The intermingling of domestic cargo and imported goods (or goods for export) also presents risks for diversion of cargo from one stream to the other.

The amendment will ensure that Customs control and powers of examination are provided for the goods of domestic travellers and of domestic cargo on international flights or voyages equal to the powers to examine the goods of international travellers and international cargo. This will close the gap in the treatment of identified border risks and reduce the advantage taken by criminal entities where domestic and international interactions can occur.

This bill will also extend Customs control to those places at which ships and aircraft often arrive in Australia that are not proclaimed ports or airports and where government agencies do not have a strong presence. International ships or aircraft may seek permission to bring a ship or aircraft to a place other than a proclaimed port or airport. For instance, the cruise ship industry regularly seeks permission to visit non-proclaimed areas of the Australian coastline. Industries involved in offshore resource activities do not utilise traditional port facilities and often seek permission to bring vessels direct to an offshore installation. The master of a ship or pilot of an aircraft may also bring the ship or aircraft to a place other than a port or airport due to stress of weather or other reasonable cause.

It is in these instances that vulnerabilities exist when ships or aircraft brought to non-proclaimed places as part of an international journey may also be involved in disembarking travellers or unloading goods in those locations. Extending Customs control and examination powers to these non-proclaimed places will minimise the risks that these activities may pose.

This bill will improve, and make consistent with other parts of the Customs Act, the application processes for permissions to load and unload ships' and aircrafts' stores, permissions to transfer goods between certain vessels and applications for a Certificate of Clearance. These amendments will also support initiatives to enable online applications for industry to seek these permissions.

The bill will also provide greater flexibility in relation to the reporting of the arrival of ships and aircraft in Australia and reporting stores and prohibited goods on such ships and aircraft. These changes will allow earlier assessment and the planning of resources required if the stores or prohibited goods reported present risks, including the management of firearms, weapons and narcotics.

The bill will also correct a technical error in relation to the interaction of Customs and Border Protection's Infringement Notice Scheme and the claims process for seized goods under the Customs Act.

Finally, the bill will also improve the administration of the appointment of authorised officers by class under the Customs Act.

Debate adjourned.