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Tuesday, 28 April 1987
Page: 1941

(Question No. 1716)

Senator Hill asked the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce, upon notice, on 3 April 1987:

(1) Is the Government currently considering substantial changes to the customs clearance procedures of the Australian Customs Service; if so, what will be the implications for the scale of customs activity in the state of South Australia.

(2) What would be the magnitude of any job losses in the state of South Australia within the customs service.

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

(1) The Australian Customs Service (ACS) is developing an implementation strategy for a system to improve the cargo clearance process. As well as upgrading the ACS's ability to identify risk cargo this integrated cargo control and clearance system (ICCCS) aims to reduce costs by greatly improving communications among all parties involved in the import process and minimising the level of intrusion by way of paperwork and physical control.

The ACS had been involved in extensive negotiations with parties throughout Australia who are involved in existing cargo clearance procedures including freight handlers and storage companies, importers, shipping and airline companies, and unions. It has published and distributed extensively an options paper for change and is now analysing responses. A firm of management consultants is assisting with the analysis, and will assist with the next round of consultation.

The ACS is not proposing to centralise clearance arrangements at the major clearance arrangements at the major gateway ports of Sydney and Melbourne but rather to have most of the current documentary processes carried out before the cargo arrives in Australia. On this basis there should be minimal effect on the scale of customs activity in South Australia.

(2) The Comptroller-General of Customs has assured staff about the security of employment for Customs officers in South Australia. So far as general employment in South Australia is concerned, this is one of the matters under study. The South Australian Government has made submissions on this matter.