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Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Page: 13667

Mr CLARE (BlaxlandMinister for Home Affairs, Minister for Justice and Minister for Defence Materiel) (10:41): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Customs Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2012 is an omnibus bill which makes a number of amendments to the Customs Act as part of the government's program of regulatory improvement.

Firstly, the bill will amend the Customs Act to make it an offence to bring into Australia without a permit certain prescribed prohibited imports to be known as restricted goods. This is different to the current offence, which requires the goods to be imported in order for an offence to be committed. Initially, the new category of restricted goods will be limited to child pornography and child abuse material. In future, this could be extended to give effect to international agreements or to address matters of international concern and could be applied to any purpose related to external affairs.

Reflecting the serious nature of the offence, the bill proposes that it carries a maximum penalty of 1,000 penalty units, which is similar to the penalties for the unlawful importation or exportation of goods.

Customs controlled areas form an important part of Customs and Border Protection's control mechanisms at airports and ports. They give officers the ability to question nontravellers, to restrict access for nontravellers, or to remove them from certain areas when Customs and Border Protection is performing its function. The bill makes minor changes to ensure Customs and Border Protection is able to set up permanent and temporary Customs controlled areas in the maritime and air environments when dealing with aircraft and ships carrying only crew and when processing cruise ships.

This bill implements a number of measures that clarify intent, remove redundant regulation and reduce the compliance burden for industry. This includes making it clear that self-powered ships and aircraft that are imported or intended to be imported are subject to the control of Customs and should be entered for home consumption. The bill will also allow the chief executive officer to request additional information from an applicant for a warehouse licence, which will enable issues to be clarified without the need for industry to submit a further application.

The bill makes minor changes to the valuation provisions, ensuring consistency with the World Trade Organization Customs Valuation Agreement.

Finally, the bill will repeal expired moratorium periods for electronic cargo reporting and repeal the legislation that refers to the accredited client program. Technology improvements and changes in the policy, procedural and cost environment meant that the program was not implemented operationally.

Customs and Border Protection consulted industry through the release of an exposure draft of the bill in September 2012.

Key stakeholders such as Shipping Australia, QANTAS and CAPEC have all responded positively to these changes. Operationally, they make little changes in the way these organisations and their stakeholders do business, but clarify their obligations under the Customs Act. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.