Australian Customs Service
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Review by the CEO

Mr Lionel Woodward Chief Executive Officer

Mr Lionel Woodward
Chief Executive Officer

This year has again been a demanding one for Customs.

Some of the demands resulted from Government decisions associated with the need for enhanced controls over the border. Others have emerged as a consequence of rapidly increasing cargo and passenger movements into and out of Australia. The more significant of the remaining pressure points were:

Cargo Management Reengineering

There have been criticisms of CMR – some justified and some not. Abalanced assessment needs to take the following into account:

Customs financial position

We were active participants in a review by the Department of Finance and Administration of the Customs financial position. The review resulted from a forecast loss in 2004–05 due in large part to the final stages of the CMR project and the fact that we had been required to undertake some Government initiatives without additional funding.

The review consultants and the senior team within the Department of Finance and Administration adopted a thorough, rigorous but fair approach. The review resulted in the development of a sound basis for continued funding of the organisation, including a formula to deal with the ever-increasing international passenger flows and recognition that our compliance capabilities had been cut to the bone and needed to be restored. There was recognition of the need for adequate funds to be provided to maintain systems around which a regulatory agency such as Customs needs to operate.

Joint Offshore Protection Command

Mr John Jeffery  Deputy Chief Executive Officer

Mr John Jeffery
Deputy Chief Executive Officer

Elsewhere in the report, we outline the formation of a Joint Offshore Protection Command which introduces an innovative way to link the Customs Civil Surveillance role with the Australian Defence Force's responsibility for patrolling and responding to threats emerging to our oil and gas installations and similar maritime threats. The Joint Command works within directives issued jointly by the Chief of the Defence Force and by the CEO of Customs. It is headed by a Rear Admiral who, with his headquarters staff, works from Customs Central Office.


A focus on international cooperation and engagement with our neighbours have been key ingredients in the Customs contribution to improved security for international cargo movement. Australian Customs has made a significant contribution to international work in relation to securing of the supply chain (i.e. the chain which begins when cargo consignments are first packed in an exporters or freight forwarders premises, through to the point of unpacking on importation into another country). Our contribution has been through the World Customs Organization (WCO), through cooperative arrangements with other countries and in regional forums. The WCO initiative, known as the Framework of Standards for Securing the Supply Chain and Facilitating Trade, provides the basis and standardised approach for the work of each country. But much more work on the framework needs to be carried out by the WCO and Australian Customs will be participating in this.

Law enforcement cooperation

This year there were numerous attempts, ranging from small to large scale organised crime involvement, to import narcotics and other prohibited imports. Many of the detections involved a combination of good intelligence work, including significant contributions by our partner law enforcement agencies, the use of sophisticated technology and the dedication of highly skilled Customs staff. Details are set out in the Report.


Recruitment and retention of qualified staff is a concern not only for Customs but for other Commonwealth agencies. We have been fortunate that so many people have become aware of the diversity and challenges of Customs work and have seen the organisation as one which would provide interesting work and a harmonious working environment.

I must say also that there has been a positive spin off from participation of many officers in the Channel Seven production of Border Security. Our staff have felt the program has shown Customs work as being both interesting and necessary for the proper protection of the Australian community. It is also clear that people outside the organisation have seen Customs in a new light and are now showing increased interest in working for the organisation.

Review of Actions

Mr John Drury Deputy Chief Executive Officer

Mr John Drury
Deputy Chief Executive Officer

Customs staff are employed under the Public Service Act and, as a consequence, have the rights and obligations of Public Servants generally. For the greater part, the system works well. But there are some staff members who, undoubtedly with genuinely felt grievances against management or other agencies, place enormous time and other pressures on senior staff by using most or all of the numerous review or appeal mechanisms open to them.

Like the pressures which senior staff feel arising from Freedom of Information requirements, the resulting strain on senior management can be significant. A solution needs to be found.

One option is compulsory mediation and, if necessary, final settlement by a third party. This would apply in those few cases where relationships between management and an employee have completely broken down but where redundancy, retirement or dismissal cannot be pursued.

Sustainable development

Customs has chosen to introduce voluntary reporting on how it contributes to sustainable development. This is in response to increased government and community focus on the impact of environmental, social and economic performance, in addition to mandatory reporting on outcome performance and financial results. The first report is listed in Enabling Outputs and will be the forerunner for more refined reporting in future years.

Next year

Over the years, Customs has proven itself to be an adaptable, flexible organisation able to respond quickly to new developments. Customs will face some new challenges over the next year. Finalising the implementation of Cargo Management Reengineering and capitalising on the system capabilities will be high on the list. The Civil Maritime Surveillance Project 2004 tender finalisation and transition to new contracts will keep Coastwatch busy, as will the bedding down of the joint offshore Protection Command arrangements. The next big project will involve information technology service market testing and the evaluation of a program to replace the Customs Bay Class vessels.

The opportunities provided by several election budget funding commitments will reach the final stages next year. It will be a challenge to bring these projects in on time and on budget, together with maintaining day to day operational commitments. International activities will continue to grow over the next few years as a result of Free Trade Agreement negotiations, hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in 2007, implementation and capacity building related to the Framework of Standards on securing the supply chain and facilitating Trade.


Lionel Woodward
Chief Executive Officer

Major achievements during 2004–05

Figure 1: A summary of Customs in 2004–05

Drug detection totals



More information under



Output 1

MDMA (ecstasy)



Amphetamine-type stimulants





Major single drug detections



MDMA (ecstasy)

Amphetamine-type stimulants





Import/Export statistics

Number of import entries lodged


More information under Output 4

Number of export declarations


Maritime surveillance

Number of Coastwatch contracted aircraft

15 fixed-wing aircraft and 2 helicopters

More information under Output 3

Number of surveillance flights


Number of Customs Bay Class vessels



Number of National Marine Unit vessel sea days



Number of suspect illegal entry vessels intercepted



Number of suspect unlawful non-citizens (including crew) intercepted by sea


Detector dog program

More information under Output 1

Number of operational detector dog teams

45 operational teams and 4 teams in training



see human resources

Organisational structure


see corporate governance

Cargo management reengineering progress

Cutover from export systems to the ICS

October 2004*

More information under CMR

Cutover from import systems to the ICS

19 July 2005**

Container and pallet x-ray funding

More information under CEF

Facilities in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Fremantle. Pallet x-ray installed in Adelaide.


* The go-live date for the exports component of ICS was 22 September 2004. For a period of two weeks, the ICS and the existing reporting system EXIT operated in parallel. At 2am (AEST) 6 October 2004, EXIT was switched off and all export reporting was completed in the ICS.

** The final date for the imports cutover is 12 October 2005.


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