Monday, 15 June 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Home Affairs. Will the minister outline to the House how the Morrison government's commitment to strong and efficient borders is working to protect Australian families and to manage the flow of critically important goods?
I thank the honourable member for his question. The member for Bonner is a very, very strong supporter of the Port of Brisbane, and he is a great advocate for industry in his local electorate. He must be, because we want to create jobs. We want to make sure that we can facilitate trade and that we can grow businesses so that they can help us in the post COVID-19 environment.
We were one of the first movers on travel restrictions in relation to the closing our borders, not just with China but with other countries, obviously. Those travel bans were scaled up and they resulted in contributing to the success that we've had in dealing with this pandemic. We've also had, though, a dramatic impact on the way in which we can reduce the burden on businesses which seek to trade, both importers and exporters—those that want to bring goods into our country and those farmers and other manufacturers that seek to export goods. We've established the Trusted Trader program to reduce the regulatory burden and help those people increase their bottom line so that they can employ more Australians. Through this program, we can help grow their businesses and get government off their backs so that they can help unemployed Australians get a job.
The other important aspect at our borders in recent times has been not only to work with supermarkets—we established a task force to work with the CEOs of the supermarkets in our country to reduce the burden and, again, to help them bring produce and products into our country in a more expeditious fashion—but also to provide support to importers and exporters by stamping out those people who seek to undermine that business model by sending PPE equipment, in particular overseas and by trying to import some of that equipment as well. The ABF, as at 12 June, has stopped some 779,000 items on export, including over 720,000 face masks as well as hand sanitiser, alcoholic wipes and other disinfectant products. The ABF has also seized an import of 46,000 items being predominantly counterfeit COVID-19 test kits and fake or unapproved medicines.
It is important to get the balance right to make sure that we keep our borders secure but reduce the costs for our importers and exporters so that they can help grow employment in our country. To get that balance right, we need a very effective Australian Border Force. The ABF is led by Michael Outram, the commissioner. He and his staff, right across the country, at both our seaports and airports, have done an exceptional job. I praise them for the work that they've done in helping to keep Australians safe. They work day and night in that cause, and they should be praised for their efforts.