Home - Claire Moore - Labor Senator for Queensland

BILLS;Customs Depot Licensing Charges Amendment Bill 2015, Customs Amendment (Fees and Charges) Bill 2015, Import Processing Charges Amendment Bill 2015

Senator MOORE (Queensland) (12:45): I rise to speak on the Customs Depot Licensing Charges Amendment Bill 2015, the Customs Amendment (Fees and Charges) Bill 2015 and the Import Processing Charges Amendment Bill 2015. Labor supports this package of bills which implement measures in the 2015-16 budget responding to recommendations by the Joint Review of Border Fees, Charges and Taxes. The fees review covered major charges imposed at Australia's border entry points, including import-processing and passenger movement charges levied by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection; import-related fees and charges recovered by the Department of Agriculture; visa application charges; and cost recovery for services, especially those resulting from industry requirements. The measures implemented by these bills, which are projected to generate $107.6 million in revenue across the forward estimates, are consistent with Labor's commitment to maintaining a robust and efficient customs authority.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection assesses and processes applications, issues licences and oversees compliance by warehouse and depot licence holders and by customs brokers. Cost-recovery charges are imposed on individuals and businesses holding or applying for licences. Licensing fees have mostly remained unchanged since they were introduced in 1997, resulting in declining revenue. The fees were originally imposed to recover the full cost of licensing, but the fees review uncovered a shortfall in the recovery of costs within some programs, amounting to about 30 per cent of customs broker charges.

The Customs Amendment (Fees and Charges) Bill and the Customs Depot Licensing Charges Amendment Bill will consolidate all licensing charges under a single act to simplify the legislation and introduce new charges that are better aligned with costs to be recovered. The new charges include a warehouse licence application charge, from $3000 to $4,500; a warehouse licence variation charge, from $300 to $450; and a customs broker licence application charge of $130 to $195 for individuals and $1,300 to $1,950 for businesses. It is hoped that these charges will reduce the cost of administering the licensing program by encouraging applicants to be better prepared. The Customs Amendment (Fees and Charges) Amendment Bill imposes a small fee for a declaration on imported goods, and the Customs Depot Licensing Charges Amendment Bill will increase warehouse, custom broker and licensing charges to allow cost recovery.

Existing import-processing charges have also resulted in a revenue gap. In 2013-14, for example, the department spent $252.7 million administering these charges but received only $242.4 million in revenue. The Import Processing Charges Amendment Bill makes three main changes. The same charge will be imposed regardless of the method of importation-that is, whether it is sea cargo, air cargo, or by postal import and warehouse declarations. A standard higher fee will be imposed for documentary import and warehouse declarations, because of the extra work in processing these declarations. The cost base for import and warehouse declaration charges will be broadened, by recovering the cost of the department's cargo and trade-related reforms. The charges increased or introduced by these bills are necessary and appropriate revenue measures, and Labor is pleased to support them.