Commonwealth Numbered Regulations - Explanatory Statements

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Issued by the Authority of the Minister for Small Business and Consumer Affairs

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 may be exercised - (c) by prohibiting the importation of goods unless specified conditions or restricts 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 Regulations) control the importation of the goods specified in the various regulations or the Schedules to the Regulations, by prohibiting importation absolutely, or making importation subject to the permission of a Minister or a specified person.


Subregulations 4QA(1) and (2) of the Regulations prohibits the importation of all goods from, or originating h the Republic of Iraq without the permission of the Minister for Foreign Affairs or an authorised person.

Subregulation 4QA(3) of the Regulations provides that the relevant permission may specify the conditions or requirements to which the importation is subject, the quantity of goods that may be imported and the circumstances in which goods may be imported.

Subregulation 4QA(4) of the Regulations provides that:

"The Minister may revoke or modify a permission granted under subregulation (2) if the Minister is satisfied on reasonable grounds that:

(a)       a condition or requirement of the permission has not been complied with; or

(b)       permitting, or continuing to permit, the importation of goods in accordance with the permission would infringe the international obligations of Australia."

Subregulation 4QA(4) of the Regulations is in identical terms to subregulation 13CA(4) of the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations (which relates to permissions to export goods to Iraq). The Attorney-Generals Department has advised that subregulation 13CA(4) of the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations indicates the only circumstances in which a permission may be revoked or modified. As a consequence of the limited interpretation that has been given to the relevant subregulations difficulties have occurred in relation to imports from Iraq. This restrictive interpretation would not allow the Minister to modify a permission at the request of an importer who is not able to comply with the conditions of a permission, even if the Minister was disposed to agree to the request to modify and the modification is within the scope of the Security Council's sanctions against Iraq.

Regulation 2 amends paragraph 4QA(4)(a) to expand the circumstances when a permission may be revoked or modified to provide that it may be revoked or modified when "a condition or requirement of the permission has not been complied with or, unless modified, is unlikely to be complied with."

The Regulations commenced on gazettal.

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