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More cash needed to fill the Howard black hole.

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SENATOR JOE LUDWIG Shadow Minister for Justice and Customs Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate Labor Senator for Queensland

23 May 2005

More Cash Needed to Fill the Howard Black Hole

Shadow Minister for Justice and Customs Senator Joe Ludwig today expressed fears the additional $80 million recently allocated as unassigned additional funding to Customs could be eaten up by continued delays in the Cargo Management Re-engineering (CMR) Project.

"Customs Management Re-engineering started out as a $35 million project, but has now blown out to more than $200 million."

"The continual delays and dilemmas associated with this project show the Howard Government is just not serious about Custom's duty to facilitate trade," Senator Ludwig said.

"The CMR was supposed to speed up the import and export process, but instead industry has been put through the wringer with extended delays."

"In addition, new costs are being borne by industry as a result of this year's budget."

"Import processing charges have increased, right at the time when industry is faced with the costs of training staff and new IT costs associated with implementation of the CMR."

The new charges are to take effect when the ICS is finally operational, and revenue from the increases is expected to be more than $50 million over four years.

Senator Ludwig said a lack of consultation with industry officials prior to the announcement of the increase meant that they were kept in the dark about the changes.

“There was no cost benefit analysis completed with the industry on the increases, where as the Quarantine Service allows the opportunity for industry to have some input.”

"This extra funding comes after an extraordinary emergency cash injection last year of $43 million just to keep the agency afloat."

For further information contact: Joe Ludwig 0418 887 525 or Simon Every 0417 955 182