By way of ACBPN 2015/05, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs) has announced the release of an Exposure Draft of the Customs Regulation 2015 (2015 Regulation).

The 2015 Regulation is proposed to replace the current Customs Regulations 1926 (1926 Regulations) which are due to expire on 1 April 2015 due to the "sunsetting" effect of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003.

According to the Notice the ED suggests that the purpose of the 2015 Regulation is to: 

  • significantly improve the operation of the current provisions
  • repeal redundant provisions
  • restructure provisions that are difficult to navigate
  • effect other minor improvements

with the intent that they remain "fit for purpose, necessary and relevant".

The Notice advises that there will be a separate instrument, to be called the Customs (International ObligationsRegulation 2015 (International Regulation) to be released for comment shortly.  These are intended to cover the customs provisions of Australia's international obligations and are exempt from any future "sunsetting" provisions so are best placed in a separate instrument.  It will be interesting to see if the regulations to implement the various FTAs will be shifted to the International Regulation.

Customs has sought submissions by Wednesday 25 February 2015.  Of course a number of parties will be making submissions, which process will be facilitated by actual provision of the ED and associated Explanatory Statement.  Unfortunately no link to the material is provided in the Notice and it has not been included in the appropriate part of the Customs website as at the time of writing this update.

As you would all be aware the 1926 Regulations are a vital part of the operation of the Customs  Act 1901 for a wide variety of purposes including details on the operation of Customs, refunds and rules of origin for FTAs.  Accordingly their reform will be of real practical effect to all in industry.  I am intrigued to see which provisions are deemed to be redundant and how the restructure will operate.  Many years of knowledge of "where things are" in the 1926 Regulations will suddenly become redundant and authority on the provisions through cases may be challenged by changes to those provisions.  This could create some uncertainty and presumably Customs will be prepared to "grandfather" those past authorities and rulings under the 1926 Regulations through the equivalent new provisions.

More details to follow but I would suggest that all pay close attention to the changes and make submissions or refer them to industry associations such as the CBFCA.