Leonie Ferretter, Jacqui McGrath and Claire Sing discuss the recently published ANAO report on the integration of customs and immigration.
On 6 June 2018, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) issued its on key findings (PDF 1.1MB) on the integration of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the former Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.
The audit principally focused on high level performance indicators, such as whether the integrated department was able to demonstrate the promised financial outcomes through its compliance efforts – given that taxes administered by the Comptroller-General of Customs form the second largest revenue stream for the Commonwealth.
Relevantly, the audit concluded that the integration had not achieved the additional revenue from compliance activities (being comprised of Customs duty, taxes and other charges). ANAO’s report referred to the department’s commitment for projected revenue collected between financial years 2015 to 2017 to be $190.2 million. However, the revenue actually collected during this period was $80.3 million. This may be an early signal for further compliance activity to come from the regulator, the Australian Border Force (ABF).
In the recent statement to the Senate Estimates Committee for Legal and Constitutional Affairs, the ABF Commissioner signalled the department’s support for trade modernisation and facilitation and that for the next 12 months the ABF will focus on “…well planned, coordinated and targeted compliance and enforcement operations”. The ABF Commissioner highlighted the importance of ensuring “…a level playing field and streamlined processes for companies that do the right thing by finding and penalising people and companies that don’t."
Only time will tell whether ANAO’s report will act as an impetus for further customs compliance activity and revenue-related disputes with the ABF.