Commonwealth Numbered Regulations - Explanatory Statements

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CUSTOMS (PROHIBITED IMPORTS) REGULATIONS (AMENDMENT) 1992 NO. 49

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

STATUTORY RULES 1992 No. 49

Issued by the Authority of the Minister for Small Business, Construction and Customs

Customs Act 1901

Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations (Amendment)

Section 50 of the Customs Act 1901 (the Act) provides in part that:

"(1)       The Governor-General may, by regulation, prohibit the importation of goods into Australia.

(2)       The power conferred by the last preceding subsection maybe exercised: - ...(c) by prohibiting the importation of goods unless specified conditions or restrictions are complied with.

(3)       Without limiting the generality of paragraph (2)(c), the regulations: - ...(a) may provide that the importation of the goods is prohibited unless a licence, permission, consent or approval to import the goods or a class of goods in which the goods are included has been granted as prescribed by the regulations; and ... "

The Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations (the Pro-Import Regulations) control the importation of the goods specified in the various regulations or the schedules to the regulations, by prohibiting importation absolutely, or by making importation subject to the permission of a specified person or Minister of State.

The Regulations amend the Pro-Import Regulations to:

i)       include an "official purposes" exemption to allow the importation of silencers and detachable magazines which are to be used by State and Territory police forces and members of overseas Defence Forces visiting Australia to participate in official defence exercises such as Kangaroo 92; and

ii)       repeal item 30AA of Schedule 2 to the Regulations to remove the import prohibition on laser sighting devices.

Background

i)       Silencers and Detachable Magazines for Official Purposes

Regulation 3 of the Pro-Import Regulations provides that the importation into Australia of goods specified in Schedule 1 is prohibited absolutely. Items 26 and 27 of that Schedule specify that silencers for use with firearms and detachable magazines having a capacity of more than 5 rounds are goods the importation of which is prohibited absolutely.

       These prohibitions were introduced in December 1990 as part of the new control regime for the importation of firearms (Statutory Rules No. 460 1990 refers).

The Minister for Justice and Consumer Affairs wrote to the Minister for Small Business, Construction and Customs on 6 November 1991 requesting an amendment to the Regulations to provide an exemption for silencers and detachable magazines imported for official purposes. The absolute prohibition in items 26 and 27 of Schedule 1 prevents State and Territory police from importing those goods for official purposes, although the Armed Forces are able to import the goods on the basis that the ProImport Regulations do not bind the Crown in the right of the Commonwealth. The proposed exemption will also cover importations by members of overseas Defence Forces visiting Australia to participate in official defence exercises such as Kangaroo 92.

       The "official purposes" exemption was also part of the control regime applied to firearms when that regime was introduced in December 1990.

Regulation 2 removes silencers and detachable magazines from the absolute import prohibition Schedule (Schedule 1), as a consequence of the proposed conditional prohibition regime introduced by the official purposes exemption (Regulation 4 refers).

Regulation 4 amends the Regulations to insert two new items into Schedule 3 to provide that silencers and detachable magazines may be imported where the Minister for Justice and Consumer Affairs or a State or Territory Police Minister certifies that the detachable magazine or silencer is for use for official purposes, and that certificate is presented to Customs at or before importation of the item.

ii) Laser Sighting Devices

Subregulation 4(1) of the Pro-Import Regulations prohibits, without the permission of the Minister, the importation of goods specified in Schedule 2. Item 30AA of that Schedule relates to "sighting devices for firearms, being devices of a kind that includes a laser as one of its components".

The control was introduced in 1980 at the request of Federal, State and Territory police who were concerned that the possession of a sight of such precision, other than for law enforcement purposes, would constitute a potential hazard to public safety. When the control was introduced the Government announced that permissions to import the devices would only be granted for official Defence or Police purposes.

In September 1991 the then Minister for Small Business and Customs wrote to the Minister for Justice and Consumer Affairs in his capacity as Chairman of the Australian Police Minister's Council (APMC) advising that there were a number of anomalies associated with laser sights which undermined the control on the devices in the Pro-Import Regulations. He requested that the APMC give consideration to the appropriateness of continuing the import prohibition in light of those anomalies, which included:

(a)       the fact that laser sights were becoming readily available locally, with no controls on their manufacture or distribution, or their possession and use, and

(b)       the fact that some local police forces had adopted a more liberal attitude towards the availability of imported laser sights.

At the APMC meeting on 22 November 1991 the various jurisdictions agreed that there would be no opposition to the removal of the import restriction on laser sighting devices.

Regulation 3 amends the Pro-Import Regulations to repeal item 30AA of Schedule 2.

The Regulations amend the Pro-Import Regulations as follows:

1.       Amendment

Regulation 1.1       is a formal machinery provision which provides that the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations are amended as set out in these Regulations.

2.       Schedule 1 (Goods the importation of which is prohibited absolutely)

Regulation 2.1       amends item 26 of Schedule 1 to remove "silencers" from the Schedule.

As the import prohibition over this item is no longer to be an absolute prohibition, the control regime for this item has effectively been moved into Schedule 3 (Regulation 4 refers).

Regulation 2.2       amends item 27 of Schedule 1 to remove "detachable magazines" from the Schedule, for the same reason above.

3.       Schedule 2 (Goods the Importation of which is prohibited unless the permission in writing of the Minister or an authorised person has been granted)

Regulation 3.1       Omits item 30AA from Schedule 2 of the Pro-Import Regulations. This has the effect of removing the prohibition on the importation of sighting devices for firearms, being devices of a kind that includes a laser as one of its components.

4. Schedule 3 (Goods the importation of which is Prohibited unless specified conditions, restrictions or requirements are complied with)

Regulation 4.1       Inserts into the Schedule two new items (6 and 7) which effectively mirror the previous Schedule 1 items 26 (silencers) and 27 (detachable magazines). The importation of these goods is now prohibited conditionally (eg. importation is prohibited unless, in respect of either item, the Minister for Justice and Consumer Affairs or a Minister responsible for police in a State or Territory certifies that the item is for use for official purposes and that certificate is produced to Customs at or before the importation of the goods.


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