Australian Border Force launches blockchain trial with TradeTrust

The Australian Border Force (ABF) started a blockchain trial with Singapore Customs and the Singapore Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) for the digitalization of cross-border trade processes. The tests will use both the ABF-developed Intergovernmental Ledger (IGL) and IMDA’a TradeTrust.While one of TradeTrust’s objectives is to enable interoperability, it wasn’t explicitly mentioned in the announcement.

ABF’s trial will initially test digital verification for electronic Certificates of Origin the blockchain platforms and gather feedback from participants on their experience, a document with information regarding the product’s destination and country of export. Typically customs departments rely on this to assess import duties. The trial’s outcomes will be shared in the National Blockchain Roadmap’s Discovery Report

“In addition to our efforts internationally, this initiative will incorporate paperless trading and secure, digital exchange of trade information as part of the future architecture and design of an Australian Trade Single Window,” said Michael Outram, ABF Commissioner.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Australian Industry Group, and financial institutions in Singapore, such as ANZ will also be involved in the project. 

The Australian government recently announced the Simplified Trade Agenda, which aims to reform and digitize trade compliance processes. The Department of Agriculture is already working with Singapore on paperless trading for agricultural trade. ABF’s trial is another step towards the Agenda’s end goal. 

Meanwhile, the TradeTrust initiative was launched by Singapore’s government over two years ago with the purpose of strengthening Singapore’s competitiveness in international trading. Ultimately its goal is to enable interoperability for trade documentation. It has broad aims that include legal harmonization, developing standards as well as providing open-source software solutions.

Ten months ago, global organizations, including the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), signed a cooperation agreement to develop the TradeTrust blockchain framework. 

Source: Ledger Insights, 26 November, 2020

Australia to Set Up Super Ministry for Homeland Security

BBC - Oz HS

Well, one things for sure – “customs” as an exterior entity is all but gone down under – Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced on Tuesday he will set up a single ministry to oversee the country’s internal security, including police, intelligence, border protection and immigration affairs.

Turnbull said the measure was necessary to address the complexity and rapid evolution of security challenges in the country, including domestic terrorism, international organized crime and cybercrimes.

“We need these reforms, not because the system is broken, but because our security environment is evolving quickly,” Turnbull said at a press conference.

“When it comes to our nation’s security, we must stay ahead of the threats against us. There is no room for complacency,” he added.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton will now head the Australian Federal Police, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the Australian Border Force.

Turnbull said the initiative, which will take a year to implement, is the largest internal security reform in 40 years and that the creation of the super ministry emulates similar decisions taken by other countries such as the United Kingdom.

The new portfolio will be similar to the United Kingdom’s Home Office arrangement, a federation, if you will, of border and security agencies,” he told reporters on Tuesday. As part of the reform, a single national intelligence office will be the coordinating authority, and will comprise a new center that will be dedicated to cybersecurity.

The reform was approved despite initial resistance by Attorney-General George Brandis, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Minister of Justice, Michael Keenan.

Turnbull assured that both the federal police and ASIO will retain their independence and that actions by the security agency will have to be approved by the attorney general.

The opposition criticized the decision and accused Turnbull of trying to use the reform to consolidate his leadership in the face of pressure from the most conservative sections of the ruling coalition.

Australia raised its terror alert in September 2014 and has passed a series of anti-terrorist laws to prevent attacks on its territory.

Since then Australia has suffered five violent incidents and has thwarted 12 other potential attacks. Source: laht.com

Australian Narcotics bust – the significance of NII

The Australian Border Force reports that four men have been arrested in Sydney and Melbourne for allegedly importing approximately 254kg of cocaine and 104kg of methyl-amphetamine into Australia.

Combined, the drugs had an estimated combined value in excess of $186 million.

An Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigation commenced in December 2016 after the Australian Border Force (ABF) targeted a cargo consignment containing mining equipment which had arrived in Melbourne from South Africa.

ABF officers at the Melbourne Container Examination Facility examined the consignment which included industrial mining equipment. X-ray images revealed anomalies within an iron ore extractor.

It will be alleged that a physical examination of the iron ore extractor by ABF officers led to the discovery of 358 1kg block packages of cocaine and methyl-amphetamine, concealed within the equipment among a load of activated charcoal.

On 19 December 2016, the AFP commenced a controlled delivery where the consignment was delivered from Melbourne to a storage facility in Sydney.

Three men were arrested after accessing the consignment in Sydney on Sunday, 5 February 2017.

During additional search warrants on Monday, 6 February, 2017 on the Central Coast of NSW, AFP officers also seized a large sum of cash in a compressed block of AUD$100 notes. The notes are currently the subject of further forensic analysis.

A fourth man was arrested in Melbourne on Wednesday, 8 February 2017.

A 47-year-old (Watanobbi) man and 75-year-old male South African citizen were charged with:

  • One count of attempt to import commercial quantities of border controlled drugs, pursuant to subsection 307.1 (1), by virtue of subsection 11.1 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) and;
  • One count of attempt to possess a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, pursuant to subsection 307.5 (1), by virtue of subsection 11.1 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).

A 39-year-old (Doonside) man was charged with:

  • One count of attempt to possess commercial quantities of border controlled drugs, pursuant to subsection 307.5(1) by virtue of subsection 11.1 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).

A 38-year-old (Roxburgh Park) man was charged with:

  • One count of import commercial quantities of border controlled drugs, pursuant to subsection 307.1 (1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).

The maximum penalty for these offences is life imprisonment.

AFP Commander John Beveridge said the AFP and its partners are committed to protecting the Australian community from the scourge of illicit drugs through targeted detection and disruption.

“The AFP will continue to work with its partner law enforcement agencies to disrupt all forms of drug importation attempts and target those who believe they are above the law,” Commander Beveridge said.

“These arrests send a strong message to criminals who choose to import harmful drugs into our community for their own profits – you will be caught, no matter how creative you believe your concealment method may be.”

ABF Regional Commander Victoria and Tasmania, James Watson, praised ABF officers at the Melbourne Container Examination Facility for the outstanding detection.

“Our officers have the expertise and technology to detect even the most sophisticated concealment. In this instance, our upgraded container x-ray technology has been able to penetrate through several layers of steel, machinery and coal/stones to identify these concealed packages.

“The success of this operation once again highlights how effectively Australia’s border and law enforcement agencies are working together to stop illicit drugs from entering our community, and how instrumental the ABF is in keeping these dangerous drugs off our streets.”

Three men appeared before Sydney Central Local Court on Monday, 6 February 2017 where they were remanded in custody.

A fourth man appeared before Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday, 8 February 2017 where he was remanded in custody to re-appear on 10 February 2017 for a filing hearing. Source: Border.gov.au

Australian Border Force – Big changes ‘down under’!

Australian Border ForceThe Australian Government has announced changes to the immigration and border protection portfolio in relation to future border protection arrangements.

From 1 July 2015, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service will be consolidated into a single Department of Immigration and Border Protection. At this time, the Australian Border Force, a single frontline operational border agency, will be established within the department.

The Australian Border Force will draw together the operational border, investigations, compliance, detention and enforcement functions of the two existing agencies. Policy, regulatory and corporate functions will combine within the broader department.

The name, in itself, marks a distinct shift in world customs operation. Unless I’m mistaken, it’s the first customs and border authority called a ‘force’. The demise of traditional ‘Customs & Excise Departments’ in the wake of 9/11 appears set to continue as sovereign states seek new ways to combat cross-border crime. There is in reality no ‘bench mark’ nowadays. Developing countries tend to favour the revenue authority model (as dictated by their sponsors) – mainly due to the fact that customs revenue remains a critical component of their economies. Developed countries are migrating in ever-increasing number to border agencies with more focus on security issues.

For more information about the changes, read the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection’s speech announcing the new arrangements on 9 May 2014 and the Australian Border Force booklet.

Source: Australian Customs Service