Prohibited WeaponsResearch

Screening of International Mail


DATE: 18 June 2014
AUTHOR: Australian National Audit Office

Executive Summary
  1. The Australian border is a challenging environment with people, cargo and mail items entering and leaving in significant numbers each week. The majority of these people, goods and mail pose no threat, but there are some
    that do present risks to Australia’s safety and security. The Department of Agriculture (Agriculture) has identified a range of commodities that pose a biosecurity risk, including particular seeds and grains, animal products and
    veterinary therapeutics. For the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs), the predominant risks to border security are the importation of illicit drugs and firearms.
  2. In this context, Agriculture seeks to support access to overseas markets and to protect the economy and the environment from the impacts of unwanted pests and diseases. Similarly, Customs seeks to protect the safety, security and commercial interests of Australians through border protection activities. Both agencies appreciate, however, that there is a balance to be struck between managing these risks and facilitating legitimate trade and travel.
  3. Different import streams also present different risks. Agriculture and Customs (collectively referred to in this report as the border agencies) consider that international mail items pose a lower risk when compared with air and sea cargo because mail items are generally smaller consignments and intended for domestic use or consumption. The management of risks in any one stream is necessarily influenced by the availability of resources and the overall risks that each agency seeks to manage at the border.

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