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CUSTOMS (PROHIBITED IMPORTS) AMENDMENT REGULATIONS 2009 (NO. 6) (SLI NO 357 OF 2009)
Select Legislative Instrument 2009 No. 357
Issued by the Authority of the Minister for Home Affairs
Customs Act 1901
Customs (Prohibited Imports) Amendment Regulations 2009 (No. 6)
Subsection 270(1) of the Customs Act 1901 (the Act) provides, in part, that the Governor‑General may make regulations not inconsistent with the Act prescribing all matters which by the Act are required or permitted to be prescribed or as may be necessary or convenient to be prescribed for giving effect to the Act.
Section 50 of the Act provides that the Governor-General may, by regulation, prohibit the importation of goods into Australia. This power may be exercised by prohibiting the importation of goods absolutely, or by prohibiting the importation of goods unless specified conditions are complied with.
The Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 (the Principal Regulations) control the importation of the goods specified in various regulations and Schedules.
The purpose of the amending Regulations is to introduce a new import control on tablet presses. Table presses are key equipment in the domestic manufacture of illicit synthetic drugs. The Australian Government's Organised Crime Strategic Framework recognises the manufacture and supply of amphetamine type stimulants as one of three priority areas for combating organised crime. Information provided by law enforcement estimates that 200 tablets presses have been imported into Australia for diversion into the illicit market over the last five years.
The amending Regulations prohibit the importation of tablet presses unless the Minister for Home Affairs or a person authorised by the Minister gives permission.
The new import control means that industry with a legitimate reason to possess tablet presses will continue to be able to import them, while preventing imports for illicit purposes.
The new import control is consistent with Australia's National Drug Strategy supply reduction policy and will reduce the ability of criminals to access tablet presses to domestically manufacture illicit synthetic drugs. The new import control compliments existing state and territory controls which make it an offence to possess tablet presses without a lawful reason.
The amending Regulations are set out in greater detail in Attachment A.
Relevant stakeholders including industry and industry associations and the public were consulted regarding the implementation of an import control for tablet presses. Public consultation regarding the new control commenced on 28 September 2009 and closed on 23 October 2009. The Government received nineteen formal responses, with the majority supporting the new control.
The Attorney-General's Department prepared a Business Cost Calculator report for the amending Regulations, which was certified by the Office of Best Practice Regulation. A summary of that report is provided in Attachment B.
The amending Regulations commence on 1 March 2010. The delayed commencement ensures that legitimate industry will receive no detriment in their business activities whilst adjusting to the new control and provides the Government with time to establish the administrative scheme.
Item  - After regulation 4F
Item 1 amends the Principal Regulations by inserting a new regulation 4G after regulation 4F.
New subregulation 4G(1) provides that the importation into Australia of a tablet press is prohibited unless the Minister or an authorised person has granted permission in writing to import the tablet press. The terms 'tablet press' and 'authorised person' are defined in new subregulation 4G(7).
New subregulation 4G(2) provides that an applicant applying for permission to import a tablet press must:
a) make the application on the form approved by the Secretary of the Department (the Attorney-General's Department);
b) lodge the application with the Minister or an authorised person; and
c) give the Minister or authorised person any information that the Minister or authorised
person reasonably requires for the purpose of making a decision on the application.
New subregulation 4G(3) provides that the Minister or authorised person may consider any relevant matter in considering whether to grant the permission. Relevant matters include any matters that may be relevant to the decision that the tablet press is not being imported for unlawful purposes.
New subregulation 4G(4) enables the Minister or an authorised person to specify conditions or requirements, including times for compliance, which must be met by the holder of the permission. Conditions or requirements may include, but are not limited to, the number and type of tablet presses that may be imported under the permission, the time before which the tablet press must be imported and a requirement to advise of any changes to the circumstances which were relevant to the permission being granted.
New subregulation 4G(5) gives the Minister or an authorised person the power to revoke, in writing, a permission where the holder does not comply with a condition or requirement specified under new subregulation 4G(4).
New subregulation 4G(6) makes it clear that the power of revocation is not limited to circumstances where the holder has been charged with an offence under subsection 50(4) of the Customs Act 1901 (the Customs Act) for not complying with the condition or requirement. Subparagraph 50(3)(b)(iv) of the Customs Act provides that the regulations may make provision for the revocation of a permission that is granted subject to condition or requirement, whether or not the holder of the permit is charged with an offence against subsection 50(4) of the Customs Act.
New subregulation 4G(7) sets out the definitions for the purposes of regulation 4G, as follows:
authorised person means an SES employee, or an acting SES employee, of the Department who is authorised in writing by the Minister to be an authorised person for the purposes of regulation 4G; and
tablet press means any manual, semi-automatic or fully automatic equipment which can be used for the compaction or moulding of powdered or granular solids, or semi-solid material to produce coherent solid tablets.
Compliance Cost Assessment
The below text is a summary of the Business Cost Calculator assessment conducted for the amending Regulation.
The total financial impact of this control on industry has been estimated at $1,500 per year. This estimate is calculated by multiplying the anticipated number of businesses seeking permission to import tablet presses by the anticipated administration costs. The average number of businesses importing tablet presses each year has been estimated to be 30 (the average number of importers of tablet presses annually between 2004 and 2007) and the average time for completing an application has been estimated to be one hour. The cost for an hour of the applicant's time has been estimated at $50. This figure is based on informal consultations with a small number of importers in relation to hourly costs and time for completion. However, the figure has not been confirmed across all importers.