Customs to cut staff, cargo screening following Budget

The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service will cut more than 200 jobs and reduce cargo inspections by as much as 75 per cent, in order to save $19 million following the Federal Budget.
The targeted reduction in expenditure comes from the ‘Trade Facilitation’ area, largely funded by some proposed reductions in average staff numbers (down from 5,720 to
5,500) and a “refined risk based approach to air and sea cargo”. Budgeted expenditure has been reduced by $19 million from the preceding financial year to actual proposed expenditure of $211 million.
From 1 July 2009, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will be reducing the volume of import cargo it inspects at its Container Examination Facilities (CEFs) and in the air cargo environment. Customs and Border Protection will continue to examine all cargo assessed as ‘high risk’, and undertake a broad revised program of inspection and examination to detect, deter and disrupt the illicit movement of goods across the border.
Customs and Border Protection stated that they will continue to engage with key industry stakeholders to implement the following inspection targets for the 2009-2010 financial year :
  • 1.5 million inspections of air cargo consignments (4.7 million reduction per annum on current volumes inspected – approximately 75%).
  • 101,500 TEU inspections of sea cargo (32,500 reduction per annum on current volumes inspected – approximately 25%).
The moves have been labelled by CBP as moving towards a “refined risk-based assessment approach”, even though numerical targets still remain. The customs brokers main industry body, the Customs Brokers’ and Forwarders’ Federation of Australia (CBFCA) said it was pleased to see the move.
“The CBFCA’s position of long standing has been that inspection and examination efforts be prioritised on a risk basis, with the introduction of nationally-consistent practices in an aim to minimise intervention to legitimate trade and industry. It is pleasing to note that Customs and Border Protection has commenced working to that outcome, even though numbers and risk rather than risk itself still remain,” a spokesperson said.

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