Australian Customs and Border Protection Service
|Australian Customs and Border Protection Service|
|Formed||22 May 2009|
|Preceding Agency||Australian Customs Service|
|Jurisdiction||Government of Australia|
|Employees||5,716 (at April 2013)|
|Annual budget||A$1.09 billion (2011)|
|Minister responsible||Scott Morrison,
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection
|Agency executive||Michael Pezzullo,
Chief Executive Officer
|Parent Agency||Department of Immigration and Border Protection|
The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service is the Australian Federal Government agency responsible for managing the security and integrity of the Australian border. It facilitates the movement of legitimate international travellers and goods, whilst protecting the safety, security and commercial interests of Australians.
The minister responsible for the agency is the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon. Scott Morrison MP. The agency is in the Department of Immigration and Border Protection portfolio. The current Chief Executive Officer of the agency is Michael Pezzullo.
The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service employs over 5,800 people around Australia and overseas and is headquartered in Canberra.
The Agency role is officially defined as: “Our role is complex and diverse and requires a very considered and increasingly targeted approach to conducting our business. If we do not manage our responsibilities effectively, the potential impacts… may negatively affect the Australian community, international travellers and trade relations both here and overseas” 
Customs and Border Protection is Australia's predominant border control agency. From international travellers at airports, to overseas mail and trade brought in by sea, it is responsible for the continued safety and security of the people and goods that travel across Australia’s borders.
Customs and Border Protection uses an intelligence-led, risk-based approach to managing threats, focussing on specific targets that may pose a risk to the border. This allows the agency to plan coordinated responses, interventions and strategies with various other government agencies, including; Australian Crime Commission, Australian Federal Police, Attorney-General’s Department, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Department of Defence, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Office of Transport Security.
Import and export control
Customs controls the import and export of goods to and from Australia, in particular the control of prohibited or restricted items, and the interception of illegal and potentially harmful goods such as drugs, weapons and computer games. Techniques used to target high-risk aircraft, vessels, cargo, postal items and travellers include using intelligence, computer-based profiling and analysis, detector dogs, Smartgate, container X-Ray facilities, Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) monitoring and other means.
Customs officers at air and sea ports, in addition to performing basic immigration control (see below), assess passengers arrival and departure cards, and have the authority to scan and search passenger baggage. Quarantine risk material may be referred to Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service officers.
Goods arriving from overseas by post are cleared by Customs and AQIS officers before being released to Australia Post for delivery.
Customs collects Goods and Services Tax (GST) on taxable goods imported into Australia. Items not subject to GST within Australia, such as basic foodstuffs, are exempt from import GST collection, as are goods that qualify for customs duty concessions.
Customs administers the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) for tourists visiting Australia temporarily or Australian residents leaving the country, allowing them, under certain conditions, to claim a refund of the GST or Wine Equalisation Tax on items purchased in Australia.
In conjunction with the Australian Defence Force, Customs and Border Protection facilitates Australia's response to the detection and rescue of Suspected Irregular Entry Vessels that smuggle people from South-East Asia into Australian waters. The agency is also responsible for the discovery and apprehension of Illegal Foreign Fishing Vessels, the patrol of remote Australian and international waters, and aerial surveillance of Australia’s coastline. To achieve these functions, Customs and Border Protection operates its own air and sea patrol unit, the Customs Marine Unit.
Customs and Border Protection have been tasked as the lead agency in the Australian government’s response to people smuggling and activities are often performed on the behalf of other agencies including:
- Monitoring Australian waters for potential people smuggling vessels
- Intercepting boats carrying illegal immigrants with Bay Class vessels
- Transporting vessel occupants to Australian territory for Immigration and Quarantine assessment
- Coordinate education and awareness campaigns overseas to deter people smuggling activities
Customs and Border Protection operates under the National Counter-Terrorism Plan to mitigate the risk of terrorism in Australia. The agency works in conjunction with other Australian Government departments to screen and target any potential threats moving across the border, including:
- Air and sea passengers
- Cargo (sea, air and mail)
- Maritime surveillance
- Remote area patrols
Customs and Border Protection is responsible for processing all travellers entering and leaving the country. At the border, agency officers check all passengers on behalf of Customs, Immigration and Quarantine requirements. Using a risk-based, intelligence-led approach, Customs and Border Protection is able to secure Australia's border against people wishing to enter the country illegally – generally without correct documentation or visas.
Narcotics, precursors and tobacco
One of the largest areas of work undertaken by Customs and Border Protection is in relation to the importation of narcotics and precursor substances and the smuggling of illegal amounts of tobacco. Examination techniques such as x-ray, trace detection technology and detector dogs are used to screen people, goods, mail, vessels and aircraft moving across Australia’s border.
Australian law prohibits the importing of any material of an offensive or grotesque nature. Customs and Border Protection protects the importation of material that has either been refused classification by the Australian Classification Board, or is unclassified but would not be deemed as acceptable viewing by the Australian Classification Board. This includes material in electronic form such as CDs or DVDs, computer hard drives and within electronic games. Prohibited material includes:
- Child pornography
- Offensive or sexualised violence
- Terrorist material
- Drug use
Illegal foreign fishing
Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is under constant threat from foreign fishing vessels. Customs and Border Protection is the lead agency coordinating regular patrol (both aerial surveillance and on-water) of the EEZ to detect and deter illegal fishing. Along with dedicated in-country education programs designed to deter people from undertaking illegal fishing, successful enforcement has seen a continual decline in the rates of foreign fishing vessels entering the EEZ.
The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service has its origins in the Department of Trade and Customs, established at federation in 1901. The organisation has been restructured several times since, including becoming the Department of Customs and Excise in 1958 and then briefly the Department of Police and Customs in 1975. Later that same year, the Bureau of Customs was established, which remained the Australian Government's customs agency until 1985 when the Australian Customs Service was established.
In December 2008 then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that the Australian Government would be augmenting, re-tasking and re-naming the Australian Customs Service to create the new Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. Royal assent was given to the changes on 22 May 2009 and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service was established.
Each week Customs and Border Protection:
- 268,000 air passengers arriving in Australia
- 1,620 international flights
- 260 ships arriving in Australian ports from overseas
- 14 overseas smallcraft
- 24,600 export entries
- 268,700 air way bills
- 48,500 sea cargo manifest lines
- Three million square nautical miles including:
- Australia's coastline and seas, including the Southern Ocean and Northern waters
- sea ports
- mail centres
- 2000 sea cargo containers
- 29,500 air cargo consignments
- 776,000 letters
- 405,500 parcels from overseas
- $188 million in revenue from various sources, for Customs and Border Protection and on behalf of other agencies
- Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service
- Customs and Border Protection, an equivalent American counterpart within the Department of Homeland Security
- CA 9259: Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, National Archives of Australia, retrieved 30 December 2013
- Australian Public Service Commission (2 December 2013), State of the Service Report: State of the Service Series 2012-13, Australian Public Service Commission, p. 253, archived from the original on 6 December 2013
- Australian Customs and Border Protection Service 2011, p. X.
- Australian Customs and Border Protection Service 2011.
- CEO Review, Customs and Border Protection, 1 May 2012
- About Us, Customs and Border Protection, 1 May 2012
- Partner Agencies, Border Protection Command, 1 May 2012
- GST and imported goods, Australian Taxation Office, 15 April 2009.
- Tourist Refund Scheme, Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, 1 May 2012
- Border Protection Command, 1 May 2012
- Maritime Security Threats, Border Protection Command, 1 May 2012
- Bay Class Vessels, Customs and Border Protection, 1 May 2012
- Arriving Passengers, Customs and Border Protection, 1 May 2012
- Departing Travellers
- Pornography and Objectionable Material, Australian Customs and Border Protection, 1 May 2012
- Maritime Zones, Australian Customs and Border Protection, 1 May 2012
- Patagonian Tooth Fish Factsheet, Australian Customs and Border Protection, 1 May 2012
- Bannon 2007, p. 12.
- Rudd, Kevin (4 December 2008), The First National Security Statement to the Parliament Address by the Prime Minister of Australia The Hon. Kevin Rudd MP, archived from the original on 30 December 2013
- Australian Customs and Border Protection Service 2011, front pages.
Further reading and references
- Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Border Protection Command
- Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Know Before You Go Guide for Travellers
- Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Getting the right Australian Visa
- Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, National Classification Scheme
- Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Purchasing goods online
- Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Importing goods containing dog or cat fur
- Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Importing imitation firearms
- Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Importing alcohol and tobacco by cargo or mail
- Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (November 2011), Australian Customs and Border Protection Service Annual Report 2010–11, Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, archived from the original on 15 May 2013
- Bannon, Matthew (2007), The evolution of the role of Australian customs in maritime surveillance and border protection, University of Wollongong, archived from the original on 25 April 2012