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Budget cuts will hurt already stretched Customs services.



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Tue, 27th May 2008 BUDGET CUTS WILL HURT ALREADY STRETCHED CUSTOMS SERVICES

The Hon Christopher Pyne MP Shadow Minister for Justice & Border Protection Shadow Minister Assisting the Shadow Minister for Immigration & Citizenship

Steven Ciobo MP Shadow Minister for Small Business, the Service Economy & Tourism

Joint Release.

Recent security breaches at Sydney Airport demonstrate the failure of the Rudd Government to recognise the importance of adequately funding the Australian Customs service, the Federal Opposition said today.

''Media reports indicate that a man was able walk past customs, and confirm that customs is undertaking an investigation into how this breach occurred,'' Christopher Pyne, Shadow Minister for Justice and Border Protection said.

''In light of the $51.5 million in budget cuts to Australian Customs services in real terms, as shown in the 2008/09 Budget papers, this would seem a strong sign that customs needs more resources, not less,'' he said.

''Customs protects Australia's borders from illicit drugs, disease and the terrorist threat, amongst other things, and Budget cuts will seriously undermine their ability to do their job effectively.

Shadow Minister for Tourism, Steven Ciobo, said these security breaches could not have come at a worse time for Australia's $85 billion tourism industry.

''The Rudd Labor Government has hit the tourism industry hard with nearly $1 billion of new taxes, while at the same time slashing funding for Australian Customs to adequately secure our airports.

''Escalating fuel costs and the soaring aussie dollar are already threatening to significantly impact the tourism industry. Bizarrely, the Rudd Labor Government has chosen not only to introduce nearly $1 billion of new tourism taxes, but to also cut funding for Australian Customs and Tourism Australia.

''Labor's decision to dwindle funding for Australian Customs has the opportunity to genuinely affect Australia's reputation as a safe and secure destination for international tourists.