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                    [post_content] => 

Andrew Hudson

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton used his opening address at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIPB) Industry Summit on Monday morning (31 July 2017) to assure those in the private supply chain and their clients that the current work agenda would be maintained under the proposed Home Affairs department.

Along with the Acting Commissioner of the Australian Border Force (ABF), Minister Dutton reiterated that the ABF would continue in its traditional ‘Customs’ role and the ABF, as part of the DIBP, would also continue its vital engagement with industry and development of trade facilitation measures to assist in the legitimate trade in goods and movement in people.

At the time of the announcement of the creation of the new Department of Home Affairs (DHA), the focus of the commentary was on national and border security issues with no comment on the traditional ‘Customs’ role of the ABF or its ongoing engagement with industry and the facilitation of international trade at the border.

Naturally, there were some concerns that the failure to address these important roles could mean that the importance of those roles was being downgraded and that momentum on various initiatives here and overseas could be lost with an increased focus on security and intervention in trade.

Both speakers made the point that the involvement of the ABF with the DHA would allow the ABF to have access to additional information at an earlier stage than is presently the case, which would actually enhance the ability of the ABF to carry out its roles. These outcomes were all consistent with the theme of the industry summit being “Border Innovation: strengthening our nation’s economy, security and society.”

In terms of the work of the DIBP and the ABF in the engagement with industry in relation to the movement of goods, there was reference to recent achievements and future commitments with such initiatives as:
  • The creation of a ‘single window’ for trade such as in Singapore and New Zealand.
  • The expansion of the Australian Trusted Trader Program (ATTP).
  • The recent completion of four Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA) with other customs services for those in the ATTP.
  • The promise of more MRA with customs services in other trading partners.
  • The development and implementation of Free Trade Agreements (FTA) to improve the use of those current and future FTAs by the adoption of robust Rules of Origin, enhanced border clearance facilitation.
  • The increased use of more advance technology and reporting systems.
There were similar references to commitments in the migration space as relating to the movement of persons. The comments provide a degree of assurance to industry that the current work agenda would be maintained and developed and that the engagement with industry remained a priority. While the reference to the achievements and initiative represents only a reiteration of those developments currently known to industry, their clear support from the Federal Government filled in a gap in the story that arose with the announcements relating to the DHA. Industry looks forward to continued engagement on these projects and its ongoing collaborative work with government, whether the DIBP, the ABF or other agencies that have a role at the border. Andrew Hudson is Partner with Rigby Cooke Lawyers’ Litigation Team, specialising in all areas of trade including international trade conventions, dispute resolution and arbitration, trade financing options, commodity and freight contracts as well as dealing with regulation of the movement of goods at the border by all Government agencies. He is also a member of many of the consultative bodies established by Government in the trade space, including the National Committee on Trade Facilitation convened by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the International Trade Remedies Forum convened by the Anti - Dumping Commission (ADC) as well as associated sub-committees. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Export Council of Australia (ECA) and the Food and Beverage Importers Association (FBIA) and works closely with other industry associations representing those in the supply chain. [post_title] => When all things change, Customs stays the same [post_excerpt] => Minister Dutton has assured those in the supply chain that the current work agenda would be maintained under the Home Affairs department. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => things-change-customs-stays [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-02 14:36:06 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-02 04:36:06 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27743 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25340 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2016-10-21 11:41:22 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-10-21 00:41:22 [post_content] => mdma molly crystal powder   By Charles Pauka Australia’s largest drug haul this year has resulted in more than a tonne of crystal MDMA withheld from entering the community and two men facing life behind bars after an Australian Federal Police (AFP) operation in Sydney in the past 48 hours. Two Polish nationals, aged 28 and 29, will face Parramatta Local Court today (Saturday, 15 October 2016) charged with serious drug importation offences following the seizure of 1.2 tonnes of crystal MDMA (ecstasy), which has an estimated street value of $145 million. The investigation commenced on Wednesday, 12 October 2016, as a result of intelligence received and working collaboratively with the Australian Border Force. On Thursday night (13 October 2016), the AFP executed a search warrant on a storage facility at Hornsby, NSW, where police located a consignment of aluminium rollers that had arrived in Sydney from Europe on Monday, 15 August 2016. Read more here. This story first appeared in Transport and Logistics News. [post_title] => Customs, AFP seize more than a tonne of MDMA valued at $145 million [post_excerpt] => Two men face life in prison. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 25340 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-11-11 10:14:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-11-10 23:14:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25340 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22232 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-11-23 16:08:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-11-23 05:08:30 [post_content] => AFP Hyundai i-max   A controversial push by an element of the Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA) to snatch union memberships at the Australian Border Force away from the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has been assertively thwarted, narrowly avoiding a damaging public row within the frontline security agencies. In a joint statement quietly issued to union members earlier this month, the chief executive of the AFPA Dennis Gellatly branded the proposal to seek coverage of Border Force members “an ill-considered thought bubble by a few individuals which the AFPA had no intention of pursuing.” The unusual spat over union coverage boiled over earlier this month after it was reported the AFPA could be seeking to boost its membership by almost double by getting sworn Border Force officers to come across to it. The potential public battle over union coverage turf could not have come at a worse time for both the CPSU and the AFPA, with the former locked in a bitter industrial dispute with Border Force management over proposed changes at the new agency over the transfer of workplace rights and conditions that potentially strip out as much as $8000 a year in take home pay. The dispute over rights and conditions has resulted in two national strikes by unionised Border Force at airports, as well as some partial work bans on the nation’s docks -- which prompted Border Force management to dock participating workers a full day’s pay. The inopportune timing certainly didn’t escape CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood. “It is unfortunate that this issue has come up at a time when Border Force employees are facing a very difficult industrial situation,” Ms Flood said. “But we won't let it get in the way of us continuing to work together for the interests of our respective members.” Now the CPSU, AFPA and its umbrella organisation, the Police Federation of Australia jointly insist the coverage issue has been resolved with the organisations in furious agreement. According to the joint statement, the CPSU, PFA and AFPA now all acknowledge that: •    The PFA/AFPA has no intention of pursuing coverage of CPSU members in Border Force •    Border Force is not a police force and its employees should not be covered by a police union •    Border Force employees are Australian Public Servants who deal with border protection and national security issues and the appropriate union for them to join is the CPSU •    There is no legal basis for AFPA to cover workers in Border Force and the AFPA proposal to explore changes to this was not in the interest of either union’s respective members Police Federation of Australia Chief Executive Officer, Mark Burgess, appeared equally keen to slam the door on recruiting non-police to his group’s ranks. “We are a federation of police unions and there is no sensible reason why Border Force employees should be part of our organisation,” Mr Burgess said. “We work professionally with the CPSU and respect their longstanding role in representing border protection employees and working with us on issues of common concern.” Nothing to see here ... [post_title] => Cops call truce over Border Force union coverage battle [post_excerpt] => “Border Force is not a police force”. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => cops-call-truce-over-border-force-union-coverage-battle [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-11-24 11:34:39 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-11-24 00:34:39 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=22232 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22086 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-11-09 16:35:56 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-11-09 05:35:56 [post_content] => Border Force Strike   A tough day has gone from bad to worse for Australian Immigration and Border Protection authorities following the death of a detainee and outbreak of a major disturbance at the notorious Christmas Island offshore detention facility   just as a national strike by its staff swept across the nation’s airports. An update issued by Department of Immigration on Monday afternoon confirmed an ongoing disturbance including the lighting of fires, authorities have denied the incident amounted to a riot and insisted they have control over the perimeter of the facility. Initial reports running across New Zealand and Australian media outlets aired claims that detention contractor Serco may have lost control of the facility after its staff fled when former prison inmates due to be deported to New Zealand rioted and set fires in the facility after another detainee was found dead by Australian Federal Police. “There is currently no large scale ‘riot’ involving the majority of the centre’s population, as claimed by some advocates and in social media reporting, but the centre remains tense and staff have been withdrawn from compounds for safety reasons,” a the statement from Immigration said. “A group of detainees, believed to be non-citizens whose visas have been cancelled under mandatory cancellation provisions, continue to agitate and cause damage to the facility.” According to authorities the “protest action” started when a small group of Iranian detainees conducted a peaceful after the death of a male detainee on Sunday after he escaped and was found at the bottom of cliffs on the Island. Immigration claims that although “peaceful” protests were permissible “other detainees took advantage of the situation to engage in property damage and general unrest.” “There is believed to be damage to medical, educational and sporting facilities but a full assessment is yet to be conducted. There are no reports at this time of any injuries to detainees or staff,” the Immigration statement said. The unfolding crisis largely overshadowed a national day of protected strike action across Australia’s airports by former Customs and Quarantine staff who are protesting the potential loss of conditions and up to $8000 in take home pay following agency mergers to create Australian Border Force. Both the Community and Public Sector Union and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection have been at pains to stress that staff covering national security, counter terrorism or intelligence functions are explicitly exempted from the strike which has been heavily publicised for around a fortnight. However the timing of the strike coincided with the resumption of federal Parliament, although most politicians and their staff routinely fly into Canberra the night before the sitting day begins. According to the CPSU’s Twitter feed, trainee Border Force staff have been sent in to make up for the walkout with unlimited overtime authorised to enable some to pull a 17-hour day. While the CPSU is citing delays of up to 2 hours at Brisbane airport, flights from Asia have also been disrupted by a volcanic cloud that has caused flights to and from Bali to be cancelled. The impact airport strike has been compounded by industrial strife on the nation’s wharfs after Border Force hit back at limited protected action by CPSU staff processing freight by exercising its right to dock a full day’s pay from participating officers. On Monday afternoon the CPSU posted pictures of fresh fruit and friands it claims were put for out to comfort “strikebreakers”. CTVx-6qUcAEs7q0   [post_title] => Day from hell for Immigration and Border Protection [post_excerpt] => Detainee death, disturbance as airport strikes unfold. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => day-from-hell-for-immigration-and-border-protection [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-11-10 11:24:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-11-10 00:24:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=22086 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21996 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-11-02 18:38:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-11-02 07:38:00 [post_content] => Fed Ex MD11   Industrial action including a 24 hour strike at Australian airports by unionised Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) officers planned for next Monday is at risk of escalating dramatically to hit Christmas cargo shipments and mail. Already tense workplace negotiations have again deteriorated badly since Friday over moves by DIBP to hit all staff engaged in protected industrial action with stiff financial sanctions. Members and representatives of the Community and Public Sector Union within DIBP are understood to be furious over a notification by the department that it will dock full day’s pay irrespective of the actual length of any work ban. Although the move to deduct a full day’s pay for shorter work bans is legally available to departments, the response is at the upper end of the scale and could close off options for proportionally incremental responses. A major risk in hitting staff will full day penalties is that it could elicit a response in kind by unions, especially in areas where partial work bans were used to limit disruption. Immigration and Border Protection late on Friday advised that it was issuing “no work no pay” notices to all of its employees participating in protected industrial action. “The Department has advised staff that only employees who are prepared to undertake all of their duties will be paid for work on days where the work ban is in place,” DIBP said in a lengthy statement. “Employees who choose to participate in a work ban will have a full day’s pay deducted, regardless of the length of time they participate. This response action is available to the Department under the Fair Work Act.” National Secretary of the CPSU Nadine Flood immediately slammed the full day pay docking as “a new and nasty escalation of this growing dispute." "Our members concerns are with Government continuing to require cuts to take home pay, rights and conditions, not with when the Department will tell us that is the case   we already know it." Although the risk of disruptions to post and cargo processing in the lead-up to Christmas is real, just what may be hit is so far unclear. “The actions as proposed have the potential to impact cargo and mail clearance in the lead-up to Christmas when the volume of activity at the border and community expectations about prompt and efficient border management are highest,” DIBP said in its statement. Australia Post is taking the issue seriously, with a spokesperson saying it “will work closely with Border Force to understand any impacts that may affect deliveries so we can take appropriate action.” “If customers have any concerns about their mail delivery, we recommend they call the Australia Post Customer Contact Centre on 13 13 18.” The Department has also accused the CPSU of ratcheting-up industrial action ahead of a revised offer to staff that it says is coming soon. But patience is wearing thin and the CPSU set out the next round of actions in its campaign late last week. “This escalation comes at a time when the Government has only just announced changes to the bargaining policy and the Department is working quickly to prepare an improved offer to take back to negotiations for a new Enterprise Agreement (EA),” DIBP said. While the DIBP is conspicuously talking-up the threat of disruption, the CPSU so far appears disinclined to get into a public shouting match of threats outside and its core on around the preservation of conditions and take-home pay. Workplace tensions over bargaining in DIBP have remained particularly high because some former Customs officers could lose as much $8000 a year in take home pay because of agency mergers. The latest bid by DIBP management to check union influence is likely to be viewed as deliberately provocative and comes as public service bargaining talks approach crunch time. The swift escalation of the industrial row at DIBP also sits in stark contrast to a wider move by the Turnbull government to reset stalled talks by lifting the ceiling on pay rises from 1.5 per cent to 2.0 per cent and widening the definition of productivity increases beyond that of simple labour cost savings like increased working hours. A major issue for both the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and its staff is that many positions – like police and other security services   are necessarily shift based around a 24 hours-a-day roster, with a highly changeable workflow. Since the creation of the new DIBP and the importation of the high profile “Border Force” concept from the Britain, there has been a concerted push to recast its workplace culture by both the government and its chief Mike Pezzullo. Although changes to workplace conditions at the new DIBP were initially slated to come in through the machinery of government changes that created DIBP and Border Force they were subsequently rolled into the re-negotiation of a new Enterprise Agreement that is the current flashpoint. Staff have also been told that the industrial action could result in them being recalled from holidays and that previously lodged leave applications may be cancelled. Staff who don’t turn up to work during periods of protected industrial action will automatically be regarded as having walked off the job and have their pay docked. “Where an employee has not notified their supervisor of the reasons for their absence, the Department will assume that the employee is absent from duty for the purpose of taking part in PIA and will arrange for the employee's pay to be varied accordingly,” DIBP said. [post_title] => Border Protection industrial crackdown threatens Christmas cargo chaos [post_excerpt] => Fury over financial sanctions. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => border-protection-industrial-crackdown-threatens-christmas-cargo-chaos [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-11-03 11:08:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-11-03 00:08:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21996 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21970 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-10-30 10:10:22 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-10-29 23:10:22 [post_content] => Sydney Airport   A take-home pay cut of $8000 a year for former Customs staff instigated by the former Abbott government has provoked a national 24 hour strike across Australia’s international airports next week. The powerful Community and Public Sector Union has warned the action will hit airports from 9th November. The action comes as the union tries to jolt security agency Border Force to reverse its position on workplace changes it says duds employees. It is understood the action will hit passport checks and freight screening, however exempted national security functions will continue as normal. The revelation of more strife at Department of Immigration and Border Protection comes after CPSU gave official notification it will increase the length of legally authorised rolling strikes from 2 hours to a full day in an attempt to jolt the federal government into dumping the pay cuts. The escalating industrial row at Border Force has become a pivotal battleground for the CPSU in its wider battle over public service wages and conditions and is increasingly being regarded as major tactical blunder by former PM Tony Abbott, ex-Employment Minister Senator Eric Abetz and surviving Immigration minister Peter Dutton. The highly divisive pay deal foisted on Border Force staff – which stems from the administrative merger of the Department of Immigration and former Australian Customs Service – means frontline staff at the latter stand to lose thousands of dollars a year in take-home after previously held conditions and entitlements were removed. But as the Coalition regains its popular mojo, there is understood to be growing frustration in parts of the government that the Border Force pay issue has been allowed to fester. The main irritation is that the dispute helps bolster union claims of a wider agenda to force down public sector pay remove conditions as part of a return to the supposedly junked ‘Work Choices’ industrial reforms while also generating major distraction from mainstream enterprise negotiations. The latest airport strikes follow an attempt by the Turnbull government to reach a compromise with the CPSU this month in the long running pay row after government finally lifted its pay offer – which is still largely just at or below inflation – from an unviable 1.5 per cent to 2.0 per cent over three years. That compromise has resulted in significant movement at the margins from the main public service union. The CPSU this week released results from its member survey that indicate public servants may be willing to settle for a pay increase of between 2.5 per cent and 3 per cent as long as they are able to retain key employment conditions, particularly surrounding leave and working hours. The removal of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister and his Employment Minister Senator Eric Abetz has also provided the catalyst for a negotiating reset, with substantial bad blood flushed away with political careers. The industrial situation at Border Force – where the pay cuts stem from shift in award coverage from agency mergers rather than routine enterprise bargaining – is a long way from the APS bargaining middle ground in terms of the negative impact on staff and is increasingly looking like a free kick for the CPSU. Accident prone Immigration Minister Peter Dutton remains under substantial pressure from some parts of the Coalition to neutralise the situation and remove a major tactical advantage for the CPSU and Labor generally. A major concern is that the Border Force dispute has provided the CPSU with plenty of ammunition to lay down covering fire for highly disruptive airport strikes that would otherwise be a public relations disaster. The National Secretary of the CPSU, Nadine Flood wasted no time in ramming home the message that the government’s ambitious hard line actions at Border Force could widen unless firmly checked at the gate. "We have made the decision to restart significant industrial action, given that discussions with [the] Government have not produced any meaningful move on cuts to these workers' rights, conditions and take-home pay," Ms Flood said. "Last month 91 per cent of Border Protection staff   that's more than 10,000 people   voted No to an unfair agreement that cut the take-home pay of many staff by $8,000 a year or more and stripped rights for all employees." Ms Flood said the CPSU anticipated that Border Force’s executive would “continue their expensive and heavy-handed tactic of flying managers around the country to act as strike breakers” and labelled such moves as a divisive tactic that would do nothing to achieve a resolution. The extent of the removal of conditions and take home pay losses at Border Force makes the latest 2 per cent offer from the government largely academic according to the CPSU’s chief. “[Public Service] Minister Michaelia Cash's decision to raise the pay offer cap to 2 per cent doesn't compensate for losing a raft of rights and conditions,” Ms Flood said. “Not fixing the $8,000 pay cuts Government is still pushing to slash from the take-home pay of officers working to keep our borders safe just makes their offer ridiculous.’ "I'm willing to get on a plane anywhere, any time to sit down with Government and resolve this dispute," Ms Flood said. Government News has contacted the Department if Immigration and Border Protection for comment on the strikes. [post_title] => CPSU hits Australian airports with 24-hour strikes [post_excerpt] => Industrial action escalates action over Border Force pay cut. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => cpsu-hits-australian-airports-with-24-hour-strikes [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-10-30 10:10:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-10-29 23:10:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21970 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21199 [post_author] => 664 [post_date] => 2015-08-31 15:09:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-08-31 05:09:24 [post_content] => ABF Australian Border Force officials fear the federal government has made them  political pawns and targets for violence in the wake of public hysteria surrounding a planned stop and search visa operation in Melbourne last weekend, says the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU). The aborted and widely reported Operation Fortitude exercise in Melbourne has attracted criticism from many quarters. The protestors who took to the streets led to the operation being cancelled, and recriminations continue over who was responsible for what is widely seen to be a major error of judgement by the newly created Australian Border Force (ABF). It may also add to simmering tensions between staff and management within the ABF. The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), the union representing ABF workers, issued a statement welcoming the news that Operation Fortitude was cancelled, and criticising the Government for ‘politicising’ ABF staff. “The union has been contacted by ABF members who raised concerns their safety would have been compromised by the publicity surrounding this operation,” said CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood. “Some members are deeply concerned about the way their work has been politicised, raising safety concerns about the public reaction. “While the ABF, as the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, has been involved in these types of operations before, they have never been publicised in this way. Our members were deeply concerned at the suggestion they would be stopping all people on the street, which is not how their work has been done in the past.” The ABF only came into being on 1 July 2015, formed from the merger of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and the enforcement areas of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. The words ‘border protection’ were added to the name of the Australian Customs Service by the Rudd Labor Government in 2009, and to the Department of Immigration by the Abbott Coalition Government in 2013. ABF head Roman Quaedvlieg has subsequently said that the original Operation Fortitude press release which warned that ABF officers would stop people at random (“anyone who crosses our path”) was “clumsily worded” and only “cleared at a low level in the organisation.” Prior knowledge of the intended operation has been denied by the Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton, despite the press release twice being sent to his office before the planned operation. “ABF staff do important work stopping drug importation and targeting organised crime and terrorism,” said Flood. “Making them a public target through this sort of hysteria is completely unacceptable. “This high-profile approach has come as a major shock for ABF staff. Their work is challenging under most circumstances but this adds another and unnecessary layer of difficulty to an already taxing task. We are calling on the Federal Government to stop cynically exploiting the work of the Australian Border Force for its own political ends, potentially putting these officers at risk.” There is no suggestion of industrial action over the matter but it is unlikely to improve relations between management and staff unhappy at the ABF being turned into a paramilitary organisation. The union says ABF staff are frequently instructed not to wear their uniforms in public due to safety concerns. The CPSU has called ABF staff out on strike once already in the two months since it was formed. In early August industrial action over pay and conditions caused disruption at airports around Australia. The creation of a military style Border Force, with black uniforms and armed officers, has been criticised by civil libertarians, the Australian Greens, and many others. “It is inconsistent with democratic principles to establish an armed border paramilitary agency subject to political whim and lacking effective independent oversight,” says the Council of Civil Liberties. The legislation establishing the ABF was passed in May 2015 with the support of the Labor Opposition. [post_title] => Border Force union criticises ‘politicisation’ of staff [post_excerpt] => CPSU unhappy with Operation Fortitude [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => border-force-union-criticises-politicisation-of-staff [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-09-04 09:37:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-09-03 23:37:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21199 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 20818 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-07-30 10:36:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-07-30 00:36:08 [post_content] => BNE Departure Board   Airports across Australia are bracing for long  delays on Monday 3rd August after the nation’s main public service union warned members at key agencies including Immigration and Border Protection will again walk-off the job amid an escalating industrial row with the Abbott government. The authorised rolling four hour strikes by the Community and Public Sector Union will hit international airports for the second time in just over a month as the fallout from stalled negotiations spreads across key government transport infrastructure. The show of force by the CPSU comes as the union continues to accuse the government of trying to deliberately force down take-home pay for many public servants, especially those who were formerly with Customs, by around $8000 a year by removing longstanding allowances and entitlements. The intensity of staff anger over pay and conditions – which are now in bargaining – stands in sharp relief to the prominent role the new Australian Border Force and Immigration authorities have in applying the government’s  get tough policies on people arriving in or near Australia illegally. The CPSU is once again capitalising on the high standing which the Abbott government places on frontline staff. “Public sector workers on our borders undertake important, difficult and sometimes dangerous jobs on behalf of our community. They deserve better than the Abbott Government’s attack on their rights, conditions and take home pay.” However the union stressed that any of its members “who have essential national security, counter-terrorism and specialist biosecurity hazard roles in DIBP and the Department of Agriculture will be exempt from taking action.” Meanwhile, the CPSU has also mounted a massive leafleting campaign, distributing more than a million flyers at key public contact points to spread its message. There is also understood to be growing disquiet and unease in part of the Coalition over the government’s tactical approach to public service pay bargaining now that the row has dragged on for more than a year with the biggest agencies still holding out. A major frustration is that an opportunity to deplete union ranks of members through apathy, attrition by striking low wage growth deals has been squandered by more ambitious bids to dial back enterprise agreement deal to as close to zero as possible. One risk for the government is that efforts to play hardball and string-out talks could backfire if Australia’s stubbornly low economic growth and inflation rate pick up. A major part of the justification for many of the offers now on the table has been that inflation has and will remain low and that bigger pay increases cannot be justified. Employment and Public Service Minister Senator Eric Abetz remains a key target for the CPSU who are now labelling him as a major irritant in negotiations. Ms Flood said the more Mr Abetz talked about excessive pay claims  “the angrier these workers get.” “They are facing massive cuts to their current pay packets but the Minister won't even meet and discuss this dispute with their union,” Ms Flood said. However Senator Abetz said that it was counterproductive for the CPSU  to organise industrial action "in support of its claim for a 12 per cent pay rise which is utterly unrealistic and would cost the jobs of 10,000 public servants.” "The Public Service and the Australian people understand the difficult financial circumstances that we face as a nation and therefore the offers that are on the table are reasonable in all the circumstances," Senator Abetz said. "We are in a very low inflationary environment and I'd encourage the CPSU to take a more responsible stance.” [post_title] => Australian airports to be hit by mass strikes Monday [post_excerpt] => Immigration and Border Protection to walk off job. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => australian-airports-to-be-hit-by-mass-strikes-monday [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-07-30 21:51:43 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-07-30 11:51:43 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=20818 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 20359 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-06-29 21:11:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-06-29 11:11:24 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_20360" align="alignnone" width="300"]493a9a3b-f14f-4c50-bf9a-8ceb50f7ee2b-450x310 Pic: Border Protection Command[/caption]   Happy financial new year? Not likely if you’re travelling mid-week. Major disruption at international airports is primed to mar the official ‘standing up’ of Australia’s latest public sector mega-merger, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and its new frontline operational border agency, the Australian Border Force, on its very first day. Unionised staff at the new entity are continuing their preparations to go on strike on Wednesday 1st July as the Community and Public Sector Union ramps-up protected action across the public service to try and force the Abbott government’s hand pushing through deeply unpopular cuts to conditions and entitlements in many agencies. The union has warned that international airports to be affected by the two hour strikes include Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Cairns, Adelaide, Perth and Darwin. The confirmation of the latest industrial action comes despite a last minute back down by the government to provide assurances to Customs staff transitioning into Immigration and Border Protection that they will not be immediately left out of pocket to the tune of thousands of dollars a year because of the consolidation through changes to entitlements, allowances and conditions. “The Secretary of the Department issued a determination under section 24 of the Public Service Act 1999 on Friday that will provide transition payments and provisions equivalent to most current allowances from the 1st of July for Customs Officers who currently receive them,” the CPSU said in a bulletin to members. “The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister has also issued a section 24 (3) determination preserving all Marine Unit conditions of employment post 1 July and until a new Departmental Enterprise Agreement is reached.” The continuation of the allowances until a new enterprise agreement is reached is a tactical victory for the CPSU which has managed to galvanise substantial new support within Customs to preserve longstanding conditions. “This immediately prevents Customs Officers from losing thousands of dollars in take home pay from 1 July. The Department and Government has held this over staff for months. This Determination makes a huge difference to members who were facing enormous financial hardship from 1 July,” the CPSU told its members. “Make no mistake, by standing together, joining our union in huge numbers and participating actively in industrial action, CPSU members in DIBP and ACBPS have achieved a significant win. But it’s only a temporary stay of execution,” the union said. The latest strike action is a serious headache for the government on two fronts. Firstly, the walk-off by those charged with defending the integrity of Australia’s borders comes at a time when government members are seeking to get maximum political mileage from border protection issues. Secondly, unlike previous lower impact CPSU action, the disruption at airports and sea ports is certain to register in the minds of affected travellers and businesses keen to avoid any industrial brawl at the nation’s entry and exit points. The CPSU’s National Secretary, Nadine Flood, wasn’t making any apologies for the disruptions saying striking staff were some of the worst affected under enterprise offers that had been resoundingly rejected. “Customs and Immigration officers are being hit particularly hard by the Abbott Government's bargaining policy which forces their agency to cut many of the allowances they rely on to make up their pay packet, Ms Flood said,” “Thousands of officers face losing $5000 to $8000 a year; while small groups of highly specialised officers stand to lose even more take home pay. We have Border Protection workers desperately worried about how they’ll pay their bills and that is appalling. “These men and women literally put their lives on the line to keep Australia safe." The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service is standing by its original advice to customers and travellers. Deputy chief executive for Border Operations, Michael Outram, said this month that arrangements were place “to protect Australia's borders and minimise the impact on business operations.” "While there will be some delays in services, we anticipate that contingency measures in place will keep interruptions to a minimum. The Portfolio regrets any inconvenience this industrial action may cause the public and industry," Mr Outram said. "During protected industrial action, the health and safety of our people and the protection of the border continue to be our priority." [post_title] => Strikes hit merged Immigration and Border Protection on first day [post_excerpt] => Unhappy financial new year. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => strikes-hit-merged-immigration-and-border-protection-on-first-day [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-06-29 23:06:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-06-29 13:06:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=20359 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 19814 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-05-27 18:31:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-05-27 08:31:54 [post_content] => SDC10178   Australia’s Immigration and Border Protection authorities have revealed an accelerated plan for the rollout of new automated biometric facial recognition gates at Australian airports for outbound Australian passport holders and some travellers departing the country as part of $630 million counter-terrorism sweep. Giving evidence before Senate Estimates hearings in Canberra this week, Australian Customs and Border Protection Service chief executive Roman Quaedvlieg said 92 of the new biometric departure gates would be deployed across Australia’s “major international airports” over the next 12 months. The expedited rollout comes as security agencies move swiftly to try and curtail the departure of radicalised Australians trying to head to the Middle East to fight with -- or sometimes against -- the likes of Daesh and ISIS that the Prime Minister Tony Abbott has branded terrorist death cults. The application of biometric passport checks at the international departure gates is highly significant because the technology has previously been primarily applied to checking that the faces of inbound passengers match the details on their passports. Biometric facial recognition is a powerful tool for authorities because it has the capability to cross check and detect facial matches of people who may have obtained passports under different names or have previously come to the attention of authorities. While authorities are loathe to disclose operational details of the systems, it is known that both federal and state police in Australia have been pursuing biometric photo capabilities -- among other physical traits -- as part of criminal records databases that are interoperable with other authorised agencies. At a logistical level, the new biometric e-gates also free-up regular uniformed staff to perform other checks and reduce bottlenecks at airports by adding more capacity to process outbound travellers. “We commence installation in July; it is an ongoing program. We are going to be quite aggressive,” Mr Quaedvlieg said of the rollout. “We initially had planned to roll the gates out in two phases, but we have decided to bring that forward and try to roll out all of the gates quite quickly.” The Department of Immigration’s Chief Information Officer, Matt Yannopoulos, told the Estimates hearing that it was expected that the rollout of the new smart outbound departure gates would take between 15 months to 18 months and had been allocated a budget of $18.6 million. “It is dependent upon airport owners and having access to the facility because they are rather large pieces of equipment,” Mr Yannopoulos told the Estimates hearing. “They have been on trial in Brisbane, so we have selected the model from Brisbane and they are being rolled out across the country over the next period.” He said the new machines came from a company called Vision-Box. However questions from Labor Senator Catryna Bilyk over potential security vulnerabilities of Australian passports used in the new systems -- which are issued and controlled by the Department of Foreign Affairs – drew a firmly cool response from Immigration and Customs officials. Asked whether microchip-enabled Australian passports were encrypted and could be “scammed”, Immigration and Border Protection Department chief Mike Pezzullo said the documents “have strong antifraud features.” “Any issue around passport technology is best addressed to our colleagues in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who run Australia's passport program. We obviously work with them,” Mr Pezzullo said. “Secondly, if I could respectfully caution and counsel the senator. It is a program to move to chip-read passports that has been in existence for the best part of a decade under both governments. It is our conventional practice to try not to, in public forums at least, give our adversaries any detailed clues as to how to get around antifraud features.” [post_title] => Biometric facial matching for outbound Aussie passengers accelerated [post_excerpt] => Terror crackdown prompts Customs to expedite installation of new biometric passport gates. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => biometric-facial-matching-for-outbound-aussie-passengers-accelerated [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-05-28 22:12:12 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-05-28 12:12:12 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=19814 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 19365 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-04-30 21:55:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-04-30 11:55:12 [post_content] => Australian Coins and Notes Macro   The Australian Taxation Office is set to be rocked by strikes in the critical run-up to the end of financial year after several thousand unionised public servants voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action over the Abbott government’s stalled enterprise bargaining negotiations. After months of retrenchments and delays getting a new pay deal to more than 21,000 ATO employees, staff at the agency appear to have finally lost patience with its management and the government over the dilution of conditions and entitlements that the Community and Public Sector Union says has produced an untenable offer that adds five work days a year for a sub inflation increase of just 0.8 per cent. The minimal increase bargaining approach may save some taxpayer’s money, but it palls in comparison to how the stalling of wages growth in the wider economy has blown a bigger hole in the national tax take from PAYG collection. According to the CPSU a protected action ballot of its members at Tax held on Thursday recorded a massive 94 per cent ‘yes’ vote in favour of industrial action with a participation rate of 73 per cent. The addition of Tax to the already long line of agencies – at last count around 15 --whose staff are legally in industrial dispute with their federal government employers points to a miserable 2015 winter and spring that will be marked by highly targeted and sustained actions. As an industrial adversary, the CPSU has largely tended towards playing a long game aimed at locking in public support and gradually shifting the government’s so-far hard line position on putting forward below inflation pay increases coupled with the dilution of conditions that for many public servants are as if not more important than a straight pay increase. Nerves are particularly raw at agencies like Tax and Human Services which have suffered substantial job losses under public service cuts, with Tax alone shedding 4400 staff over the past 18 months according to the CPSU. Although financially effective, the hard pruning of public service headcount up-front comes at a potentially steep cost to the government because it effectively forfeits the tactical use of layoffs as a tangible threat to persuade public servants who might otherwise fear for their jobs. The union’s holding out could also run the dispute into the run-up to the next election. Another issue facing ministers and departmental chiefs is that public servants that deal with the public everyday -- like Tax, Human Services and even the Bureau of Meteorology – can easily communicate their messages to a mass audience far more cost effectively than the government can put its case forward. Employment and Public Service Minister Senator Eric Abetz remains a key target for criticism from the CPSU. “This Government has severely misunderstood and underestimated the commitment of this workforce to defend hard-won conditions and fight for a fairer deal,” said CPSU Secretary Nadine Flood. “Unfortunately [Senator] Abetz is more interested in taking industrial relations back to the dark ages, than in talking to us about finding a better way forward.” The CPSU is also rolling its organisational artillery up to the government’s border in terms of what is expected to be a long-running series of legally well-coordinated attacks. The CPSU this week revealed it had mustered at least 70 “rank and file leaders” in Sydney to “decide the union’s plans as more public servants push back against the government’s aggressive approach to bargaining and public sector job cuts.” The group is described as a “council of war” that will thrash out order of play and the levels of industrial action that will be applied. Politicians have already been put on notice that flights in and out of Canberra during Parliamentary sittings could be targeted for disruption. There’s also no shortage of campaigns to organise, with industrial action underway across 15 Commonwealth agencies that covers just over half of the 159,000 APS headcount. Politicians travelling overseas could also find life on the road more challenging after the CPSU on Wednesday applied to the Fair Work Commission to run a ballot of its members at Customs and Immigration on whether to take protected action. [post_title] => Strikes at ATO primed for Tax Time [post_excerpt] => 'Council of war' convened for federal industrial campaign. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => strikes-at-ato-primed-for-tax-time [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-05-05 12:18:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-05-05 02:18:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=19365 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 18376 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-03-03 11:55:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-03-03 00:55:11 [post_content] => Faceless One of federal Parliament’s most powerful joint committees has demanded that government agencies unable to meet an August 2015 deadline to get crucial cybersecurity defences sorted must set a compliance date -- or be hauled back to Parliament House face fresh questioning over their lack of progress. The Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA)  has bluntly told agencies examined in an Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) audit into cyber attacks and the security of agency systems that it now intends to keep the spotlight trained on the issue and wants real progress made quickly. The warning from JCPAA that it is prepared to effectively name and shame agencies over future lack of progress on cyber security is a potent threat because it could potentially hold-up progress on meeting a key Coalition policy objective to bring most government services online. The Abbott government and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull have been vigorously pursuing a stated policy goal that at least 80 per cent of government communications will very quickly need to be transacted online. “Part of our policy is to ensure by 2017, all interactions with the federal government, or all major interactions that involve a reasonable number of people can be conducted end-to-end digitally,” Mr Turnbull told an Enterprise Ireland breakfast in September 2014. In the same speech Mr Turnbull said the most effective way to move the Australian economy “onto a digital plane is to get government onto a digital plane.” But to get on the runway, many key agencies still have to complete IT security overhauls to ensure they are sufficiently protected from malicious actors that range from foreign espionage intrusions to criminal entities seeking client information to perpetrate online fraud. And now top level concern over the pace of progress is clearly growing. “The Committee is keenly aware of the importance of ensuring that the ICT systems of Australian government agencies are adequately protected from both internal and external threats,” the JCPAA said in its report. “The Committee is concerned that, of the seven agencies audited, not a single agency was found to be fully compliant with the top four mitigation strategies and related controls in the ISM [Information Security Manual] at the time of audit and none of the agencies was expected to achieve full compliance by the mandated target date of July 2014.” Part of the problem, which the Committee readily acknowledged, is that achieving compliance with the Australian Signals Directorate’s ‘Top Four’ IT security mitigation strategies. One of the biggest challenges is patching corporate applications within agencies, especially for heavy technology users like Tax and Centrelink where there are literally thousands of programs that have built up over decades that need to be probed. Additionally, sheer volume of work involved in achieving compliance makes it an almost impossible task for some agencies within the constraints of existing resources, a situation that forces difficult choices in terms of assigning priorities. Now the JCPAA wants agencies to front up and show their hand on what it will take to get with the security program. “The Committee acknowledges the comments from ASD and the selected agencies regarding the challenges that many agencies have faced and will continue to face when implementing these strategies,” the JCPAA report said. However, the Committee cited its agreement with the ANAO’s comments that “where agencies are unable to comply fully with mandatory Government requirements within a specified timeframe, it is important that they develop a clear timetable and process to establish a path to compliance and guide implementation.” The report goes on to say that each agency should produce “a clear and detailed plan of necessary activities, including a definitive date of compliance.” “Agencies that do not expect to achieve full compliance before August 2015 should notify the Committee – the Committee may then seek an explanation of why full compliance is not expected to be achieved, as well as the mitigation strategies the agency has put in place,” the report cautioned. The current Top Four IT security mitigation strategies: • Application Whitelisting: designed to protect against unauthorised and malicious programs executing on a computer. This strategy aims to ensure that only specifically selected programs can be executed; • Patching Applications: applying patches to applications and devices to ensure the security of systems; • Patching Operating Systems: deploying critical security patching to operating systems to mitigate extreme risk vulnerabilities; and • Minimising Administrative Privileges: restricting administrative privileges provides an environment that is more stable, predictable, and easier to administer and support as fewer users can make changes to their operating environment. Source: ANAO, Attorney General’s Department, ASD [post_title] => Fed agencies warned over slow cybersecurity fixes [post_excerpt] => Audit committee demands dates and details. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fed-agencies-warned-over-slow-cybersecurity-fixes [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-03-03 11:56:10 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-03-03 00:56:10 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=18376 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 17976 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-02-03 10:19:41 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-02-02 23:19:41 [post_content] => This article first appeared in the August/September 2014 issue of Government News. Those responsible for upholding the safety of Australians in their roles as guardians of public and government security must now face the challenge that the most potent threats could be internal. Julian Bajkowski assesses what’s keeping the watchers awake at night. It takes a lot to get under the skin of the gently spoken chief of Australia’s domestic spy agency ASIO, David Irvine, but when you do, you’ll know about it. So it was in early August when the Director General of Security used the conclusion of a frank and practical speech to the Australian Institute of International Affairs to take a bite out of The Australian newspaper over a headline that proclaimed “We’ll fight Islam for 100 years”. As families in suburbs and towns across the nation are on a daily basis exposed to the nauseating horror of unfolding extremism in Iraq and Syria ‑ where some Australians are known to be active participants ‑ Irvine still level-headedly cautioned it’s not religion he and Australia’s security agencies are fighting, but terrorism. It’s not a popular stand, certainly not a populist one, when the nation’s spy chief takes on one of the media champions of the government of the day by publicly declaring he’s been “upset” by a headline. “Let me reiterate, we are not fighting Islam, in Australia or anywhere else. We are fighting the terrorism that kills innocent people, both Muslim and non-Muslim, as the actual text of the article went on to imply, belying the absurdity of the headline,” Irvine said. He’s similarly adamant Australians “should not let the phenomenon of violent Islamist extremism destroy the community harmony that is such an essential characteristic of Australia’s highly successful multi-cultural democracy. That is precisely what violent extremism and terrorism want to do.” For ASIO, that means building trust in communities where there is often an intense suspicion and loathing for law enforcement and a very strong perception of unfair police targeting and stereotyping. The stakes are doubly high because avoidable rips in the fragile social fabric of regions like South Western Sydney could potentially provide just the wrong kind negative inspiration that enhances the prospects for the recruitment of individuals prone to radicalisation. Irvine, who has headed ASIO for five years, certainly isn’t understating the threat. Although he says that only “a very small level of support amongst the fringe of the fringe of the Muslim community here in Australia” exists for the terrorist insurgency, the numbers of local recruits drawn to fighting overseas has never been seen before. “The number of Australians who have sought to take part in the Syria and Iraq conflicts, or have sought to support extremists fighting there, is unprecedented,” Irvine said. “We assess around 150 Australians have become involved with Islamist extremists in Syria and Iraq, either by travelling to the region, attempting to travel or supporting groups there from Australia. “This is not the first time we have seen involvement of Australians in overseas jihadist conflicts. But their number was much smaller and few were involved in the type and level of violence we are now seeing.” But the rise of home-grown terrorists doesn’t mean that previous insider threats ASIO and other security agencies have needed to counter have The Post-Snowden reality When Russian computer security entrepreneur Eugene Kaspersky took to the stage of Canberra’s National Press Club, he quipped that the volume of classified material let loose by the now fugitive National Security Agency contractor meant that the threat from Australian Wikileaks figurehead Julian Assange had pretty well sunk into insignificance. Although a comment intended for the media, it nonetheless visibly captured the attention of the dozens of government security officials filling the room to get a very candid take on the realpolitik of cyber diplomacy and strategy. Few doubt that sheer scale of exfiltration of material by Snowden will have ramifications for years to come. But what has created equal amounts of anger and fear is that just a single person, acting alone could compromise so much highly sensitive information. All of the Five-Eyes security agencies ( those in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States), have material reason to dread what secrets Snowden grabbed might leak out over coming months and years; not least because the lives of their staff are at risk and the security that operations depend on uncertain. In a key speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC in April, Australia’s Attorney General and chief law officer, Senator George Brandis, didn’t mince words about the need for international intelligence gathering and sharing to continue, or the challenges that now lie ahead. “The more intelligence I read, the more conservative I become,” Brandis confessed. “The more deeply I come to comprehend the capacity of terrorists to evade surveillance, the more I want to be assured that where our agencies are constrained, the threat to civil liberty is real and not merely theoretical.” Noting that in Syria “Australians are taking up senior leadership roles in the conflict” Brandis, like Irvine, suggested that “the difference is the scale of the problem.” Singling out the Snowden incident as “profoundly damaging” Brandis said there was “massive damage” from the disclosures at two levels. The first was that the airing of “intelligence content” undermined the interest of Australia and its allies. But the second and even bigger problem was the revelation about intelligence collection capability that allowed targets to change their tactics to avoid detection. Referring to the problem of targets “going dark”, Brandis candidly admitted to “practical difficulties in obtaining information.” “People who pose national security threats are using disclosed information to update their methods and avoid detection by our agencies. Criminals similarly use the information to avoid detection and prosecution. Capability, which can be decades in development and expect to enjoy a significant operational life expectancy, may be potentially lost overnight,” he added. Moreover, restoring capability “after a set-back” was not simple or quick and came at “substantial cost.” “The harms of the Snowden disclosures will continue to be felt for an unpredictable time to come,” Brandis said. Clearly angry at the extent of potentially compromised capability and operations, Australia’s Attorney General set down a viscerally clear rejection of the notion that Snowdon’s actions were justified as whistleblowing. Pointing to a trifecta of thresholds set down by Princeton university academic Professor Rahul Sagar, Brandis said Snowdon had been shown to have failed to pass the test on all three critical measures:
  • First, a whistleblower must have clear and convincing evidence of abuse;
  • Second, releasing the information must not pose a disproportionate threat to public safety;
  • Third, the information leaked must be as limited in scope and scale as possible.
“Snowden is not a genuine whistleblower,” Brandis said, before hopping into both sides of politics. “Nor, despite the best efforts of some of the gullible self-loathing Left, or the anarcho-libertarian Right, to romanticise him, is he any kind of folk hero. He is a traitor. He is a traitor because, by a cold-blooded and calculated act, he attacked [the US] by significantly damaging its capacity to defend itself from its enemies, and in doing so, he put [its] citzen’s lives at risk. And, in the course of doing so, he also compromised the national security of America’s closest allies, including Australia’s. Hitting close to home If the threat of home-grown terrorism, insider compromises and corruption appears abstract, few could make the notion powerfully real as the head of what used to be the Australian Customs Service (since transferred into the Australian Border Force), Michael Pezzullo. In June 2014, a letter to Customs staff was issued, and subsequently published, that explained first-hand the governance arrangements surrounding actions against the Customs chief’s brother, Fabio Pezzullo, also employed by Customs, relating to charges against him in connection with an investigation by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity. Put simply, the letter to staff spelled-out and cleared the air over what measures had been put in place to ensure there was no potential, perceived or real conflict of interest that may have occurred in relation to allegations and charges against the Customs chief’s brother, and his subsequent trial that resulted in a good behaviour bond. “For obvious reasons to do with preventing any conflict of interest, or perceived conflict of interest, I have been kept at arm's length from this matter, as chief operating officer before September 2012, as acting chief executive (September 2012 to February 2013) and as chief executive since February 2013,” Pezzullo is reported as having said in the letter. “Successive ministers have been briefed, and arrangements were put in place when I became chief executive to ensure that I was shielded from relevant information concerning the case and would not be placed in a position of having to make any decisions regarding former officer Pezzullo, should it have ever come to that.” What was not lost on many Customs officers was that it was Michael Pezzullo leading a big push to weed out corruption. “Situations such as this test our resilience and resolve, but this case also demonstrates that nothing is going to derail our efforts to clean out corruption and misconduct, and put in place the strongest standards, the best values and the toughest integrity regime in the public service,” Michael Pezzullo said in his letter. He said that “matters such as this come along in life as opportunities for the resilience and capacity of the human spirit to reveal itself” and that he was “strengthened not weakened” by the “support and humanity” of his colleagues. “The best course for us all now is to continue with the task that we have set ourselves.” [post_title] => The enemy within [post_excerpt] => The post-Snowden reality for surveillance agencies. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-enemy-within [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-02-06 11:03:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-02-06 00:03:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=17976 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 16576 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2014-10-08 21:19:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-10-08 10:19:58 [post_content] => 20120106-OC-AMW-0732 There are only three weeks left to put in a submission to a government review which puts customs and border charges - worth $3 billion to border agencies - under the microscope. The Joint Review of Border Fees, Charges and Taxes will look at ways to streamline and improve existing borders fees, charges and taxes. This includes visa application charges, passenger movement charges (the old departure tax) and Department of Agriculture fees levied on imports, such as container chargers and import declaration charges. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says it costs $6 billion each year to administer Australia’s borders. “We must ensure that border fees and charges do not provide a disincentive to trade and travel that adds value to our economy,” he said. Cost recovery, both now and in the future, is also an important focus of the review, as is charting the outcome of recent changes to visa application charges. The review is being led by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) and will be conducted jointly with the Department of Agriculture. Some other fees and charges are outside the scope of the review: the Goods and Services Tax (GST), export fees, Customs Duty (including refunds, Tariff Concessions, Drawbacks) and fees and charges recovered by the Department of Agriculture such as inspections, treatments and export certification. The Department of Agriculture is currently completing its own review into cost recovery. The inquiry was announced by Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison in September and the closing date for submissions is October 31. An industry consultation paper tells you more about the review. Recommendations to the government should be finalised by April 2015. [post_title] => Aussie Customs charges put under probe [post_excerpt] => Deadline for submissions October 31. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => customs-border-charges-microscope [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-10-10 01:28:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-10-09 14:28:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=16576 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27743 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-02 14:33:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-02 04:33:30 [post_content] => Andrew Hudson The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton used his opening address at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIPB) Industry Summit on Monday morning (31 July 2017) to assure those in the private supply chain and their clients that the current work agenda would be maintained under the proposed Home Affairs department. Along with the Acting Commissioner of the Australian Border Force (ABF), Minister Dutton reiterated that the ABF would continue in its traditional ‘Customs’ role and the ABF, as part of the DIBP, would also continue its vital engagement with industry and development of trade facilitation measures to assist in the legitimate trade in goods and movement in people. At the time of the announcement of the creation of the new Department of Home Affairs (DHA), the focus of the commentary was on national and border security issues with no comment on the traditional ‘Customs’ role of the ABF or its ongoing engagement with industry and the facilitation of international trade at the border. Naturally, there were some concerns that the failure to address these important roles could mean that the importance of those roles was being downgraded and that momentum on various initiatives here and overseas could be lost with an increased focus on security and intervention in trade. Both speakers made the point that the involvement of the ABF with the DHA would allow the ABF to have access to additional information at an earlier stage than is presently the case, which would actually enhance the ability of the ABF to carry out its roles. These outcomes were all consistent with the theme of the industry summit being “Border Innovation: strengthening our nation’s economy, security and society.” In terms of the work of the DIBP and the ABF in the engagement with industry in relation to the movement of goods, there was reference to recent achievements and future commitments with such initiatives as:
  • The creation of a ‘single window’ for trade such as in Singapore and New Zealand.
  • The expansion of the Australian Trusted Trader Program (ATTP).
  • The recent completion of four Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA) with other customs services for those in the ATTP.
  • The promise of more MRA with customs services in other trading partners.
  • The development and implementation of Free Trade Agreements (FTA) to improve the use of those current and future FTAs by the adoption of robust Rules of Origin, enhanced border clearance facilitation.
  • The increased use of more advance technology and reporting systems.
There were similar references to commitments in the migration space as relating to the movement of persons. The comments provide a degree of assurance to industry that the current work agenda would be maintained and developed and that the engagement with industry remained a priority. While the reference to the achievements and initiative represents only a reiteration of those developments currently known to industry, their clear support from the Federal Government filled in a gap in the story that arose with the announcements relating to the DHA. Industry looks forward to continued engagement on these projects and its ongoing collaborative work with government, whether the DIBP, the ABF or other agencies that have a role at the border. Andrew Hudson is Partner with Rigby Cooke Lawyers’ Litigation Team, specialising in all areas of trade including international trade conventions, dispute resolution and arbitration, trade financing options, commodity and freight contracts as well as dealing with regulation of the movement of goods at the border by all Government agencies. He is also a member of many of the consultative bodies established by Government in the trade space, including the National Committee on Trade Facilitation convened by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the International Trade Remedies Forum convened by the Anti - Dumping Commission (ADC) as well as associated sub-committees. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Export Council of Australia (ECA) and the Food and Beverage Importers Association (FBIA) and works closely with other industry associations representing those in the supply chain. [post_title] => When all things change, Customs stays the same [post_excerpt] => Minister Dutton has assured those in the supply chain that the current work agenda would be maintained under the Home Affairs department. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => things-change-customs-stays [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-02 14:36:06 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-02 04:36:06 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27743 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 18 [max_num_pages] => 2 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => 1 [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => [is_tag] => 1 [is_tax] => [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => [is_robots] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 0cd707889724ee1b3ad976b19da6f080 [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => 1 [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) )

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customs