Scott Morrison, as Minister for Immigration has just confirmed that the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (”Customs”) and the Department of Immigration are to merge into one “super agency” with an anticipated commencement date of June 2015 which press reports are describing as the “Australian Border Force”.
This is consistent to one of the recommendations contained in the Report released by the National Commission of Audit on 1 May 2014 and addressed in our CTT Update of the next day.
Details have yet to be announced on how the integration will take place but it may well draw heavily from the model of the Canadian Border Services Agency. The Border Force will be part of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. It will be led by a civilian commissioner, reporting directly to the Immigration Minister.
The change suggests that Customs will not exist from July 2015. It calls into question recent reforms and restructures to Customs led by its CEO and leaves open the future of these important reforms which creates uncertainty for Industry especially when job cuts are foreshadowed. Speculation on the integration has been in place for some years and it follows significant changes to the role of Customs over recent years including the movement of the responsibility for Excise to the ATO and the movement of responsibility for anti-dumping and countervailing matters from Customs to the Australian Dumping Commission operating within the Department of Industry.