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Customs systems delay threatens credibility.

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Senator Mark Bishop Shadow Minister for Customs Senator for Western Australia


18th August 2003 ref:cstm.m&pr/01-03

Customs Systems Delay Threatens Credibility

Further delays to the proposed Integrated Cargo System (ICS) by Customs will inconvenience industry and diminish the credibility of the grand plan to reengineer Custom’s clearance processes.

After three years of talk and massive blowouts in costs, Customs has announced that the EXIT system for export users scheduled to come on line on 1 December 2003, will now be put back to 1 March 2004.

While it might be reassuring that an immature and untested system will not be foisted on an unprepared industry, inconvenience will still result. Industry has been gearing up with investment decisions on systems to integrate with ICS, preparing for staff training and testing of the new systems and linkages - all of which will now be put in suspense.

More concerning is the management of this project, which has clearly been underestimated with respect to its technical complexity and its costs.

Further delay will also cascade to delaying the more difficult module of imports, which in turn will mean that plans of finalisation of the complete integrated system will be on the never-never.

For industry struggling to integrate their own systems right through the freight logistics chain, this is a depressing forecast - but probably a realistic one.

The Government needs to come clean with a realistic timetable and budget which can restore industry’s confidence that this massive reengineering project is on another track, but one they can deal with.

Industry may be well advised not to sign off on any part of this project until they have 100% confidence that it works without fault for their business. There is simply too much at stake.

Media Details: Senator Mark Bishop 0419 959 892 or Peter Reece 0414 677 441 Parliament House (02) 6277 3101