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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 32

(Question No. 1542)

Senator Jones asked the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce, upon notice, on 20 November 1986:

(1) Has the Federal Government decided to adopt a proposal from the Australian Customs Service to centralise customs clearances at Sydney and Melbourne at the expense of the port of Brisbane and also at Brisbane Airport.

(2) Does the Customs Service proposal mean the end of a long established practice of Brisbane bound cargo being discharged from ships or aircraft in Sydney and moved under bond to Brisbane for customs clearance.

(3) Would the proposal mean importers would be required to clear their cargo in Sydney.

(4) What consultations have taken place on this issue between the Australian Customs Service and the Brisbane Port Users Committee, an informal body of employers and employees through their various industrial bodies.

Senator Button —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) The proposed Integrated Cargo Control and Clearance System (ICCCS) is the subject of continuing consultation between the Australian Customs Service (ACS) and interested parties. The ACS has prepared a discussion paper which details the features of ICCCS and is seeking industry responses to the various options by 30 January 1987. Responses will be used by the ACS either to firm up a plan for implementation of ICCCS, or perhaps ICCCS in a modified form.

The ACS is not proposing that Customs processes for the clearance of cargo be transferred to and concentrated at the major ``gateway'' ports and airports. The ACS simply seeks to have most of the current documentary processes carried out before the cargo arrives at the gateway port.

(2) One of the ACS's principal objectives in proposing ICCCS is to upgrade its identification and control of high risk cargo immediately from the time it arrives in Australia. The key factor for the achievement of this objective is to maximise the level of early entry. The consequence of a high level of early entry would be a reduction in the incidence of underbond removals.

Importers/agents who do not participate in the ICCCS will be able to continue to use existing procedures. These procedures, however, will not remain entirely unchanged. Subject to the availability of ACS resources, there will be closer scrutiny of goods moving from gateway ports to secondary ports under the existing underbond system.

(3) No. The ICCCS proposal aims to have the lodgement and processing of entry information completed before the cargo arrives at the gateway port. This would allow the release from Customs control, as early as possible, of cargo assessed as presenting minimal risk and not required for random check. The electronic entry option would maintain, as far as possible, present practices for carrying out the current documentary processes at the destination ports.

(4) A meeting was held in Brisbane on Friday 20 December 1986 between representatives of the Australian Customs Service and the Brisbane Port Users Committee. Consultation centred on the discussion paper referred to above. The Committee has undertaken to provide a written submission by 30 January 1987.