Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced the formation of the Australian Border Force, a new agency under the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to take over the work of Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, enforcing all Customs and immigration laws, and to be led by a civilian commissioner.
These reforms will both enhance our national security and create an even stronger national economy.
Border security is the platform upon which we enable the seamless flow of people and goods legitimately across our borders that is critical to Australia’s success as an open trading economy and that has arguably made us the world’s most successful immigration nation.
Maintaining our border as a secure platform for legitimate trade, travel and migration is what border protection is all about.
Protecting our borders requires a range of functions to manage the flow of people and goods across a border continuum, not just a border entry point.
An end to end approach to process is needed with actions occurring pre–border (offshore) where authority for entry is sought, at the border where verification of that authority and other checks such as identity occur and post border (onshore) where compliance with the entry authority is enforced.
These functions range from seeking to shape the offshore environment that can give to rise to border risks through prevention and disruption activities, international cooperation, intelligence gathering and analysis, through to operations on the border including inspections, identity checks and maritime patrols and enforcement and compliance activities on shore.
The changes have some obvious synergies generating operational efficiencies and cost savings in passenger processing at our international airports and in dealing with illegal maritime arrivals.
It could be argued that a “super border agency” should have also incorporated the quarantine functionality.
Perhaps the government has bitten off enough for now and will look at this in the future.
So what has the Minister’s announcement revealed in context of impacts on international trade?
The removal of “Service” from the previous title of Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and introducing the term “Force” in Australian Border Force (ABF) sends a strong message.
The minister makes no apologies for a strong enforcement approach in protecting Australia’s borders.
So what is some of the detail?
The minister’s announcement highlights that reforms will be completed in line those completed by UK and US border control administrations.
On the back of this it would make a lot of sense for the Australian reforms to include a US pre-load cargo reporting model.
This would be a win-win ensuring that the ABF achieve 100% compliance of pre-arrival cargo reporting and assisting in the facilitation of legitimate international trade.
The ABF will increasingly rely on intelligence to profile against cargo reports and “big data” from other external sources to identify high-risk consignments.
It is also interesting to note the endorsement of a “trusted trader” concept which moves away from current “one-size-fits-all” transactional processing.