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Customs shortfall demands public scrutiny.

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Shadow Minister for Justice and Customs

Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs

Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate

Labor Senator for Queensland

5 November 2004

Customs Shortfall Demands Public Scrutiny

The 2003/2004 Australian Customs Service Annual Report exposes a number of concerns about Customs’ ability to work within budget.

Labor’s Shadow Minister for Justice and Customs Senator Joseph Ludwig said Customs appeared to be flailing around in a sea of financial difficulties.

“It’s clear Customs has major budgetary problems. The annual report reveals the organisation required a $43 million dollar cash injection to prop it up over the last financial year,” Senator Ludwig said.

“The financial difficulties appear to be systemic and reflect either a lack of proper funding or a failure of ministerial oversight. This is the only explanation for why there’s a review probing into how Customs handles its finances.”

“Consultant investigators from the Department of Finance were called in last financial year to review these problems, and we were promised a report in the first few months of this financial year.”

“For the record, we’re now five months in and the Department of Finance report has not been completed.”

“If there is some kind of hold up, Minister Ellison should be chasing it up with his counterpart in Finance.”

Senator Ludwig also raised concerns the results of the independent review would not be available publicly.

“Minister Ellison must release the results of the investigation to the public, because there is a clear public interest in ensuring Customs doesn’t run out of cash again.”

For further information contact: Simon Every 0417 955 182