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Wednesday, 23 March 2011
Page: 2864

Mr BRENDAN O’CONNOR (Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for Justice and Minister for Privacy and Freedom of Information) (9:27 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill is part of the government’s initiatives to increase the level of security in the export cargo environment by strengthening the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service controls over international export cargo. The bill will enhance Customs and Border Protection’s ability to respond to specific security concerns and to detect and respond to high-risk export cargo.

These measures implement the outcomes from a joint Customs and Border Protection and Department of Infrastructure and Transport review, which formed part of the Australian government’s response to the Independent Review of Airport Security and Policing for the Government of Australia (the Wheeler Report).

The measures are both balanced and proportionate to the risks in the export cargo environment; they will not needlessly affect the movement of legitimate export cargo.

The bill also proposes changes that will more closely align the legislation with existing air and sea cargo industry export business processes. These changes address concerns raised by the Australian National Audit Office in its review of the ‘Cargo Management Re-engineering Project’.

This bill will improve Customs and Border Protection’s ability to deal with goods in licensed depots and warehouses as well as aligning the procedures and terminology that apply to the two schemes, providing clarity to licence holders. This includes new provisions for the suspension and cancellation of depot licences.

The bill will also enable the Chief Executive Officer of Customs to specify conditions on depot and warehouse licences to ensure compliance with other laws of the Commonwealth or a state or territory, and it will introduce strict liability offences for breaches of licence conditions. These changes are designed to support the security improvement initiatives relating to export cargo.

In response to industry suggestions, the bill will remove a requirement for reporting cargo on board lost or wrecked ships or aircraft where a report has already been made and it will remove some redundant provisions.

Customs and Border Protection has consulted industry extensively on the changes in this bill through a principles paper in 2008 and the release of an exposure draft of the bill in February 2011. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Andrews) adjourned.