25 September 2023

Border Force lights up new tobacco power

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The Australian Border Force (ABF) is to be empowered with new enforcement options to seize illicit tobacco imports and crackdown on tobacco smugglers when new regulations come into force on 1 July.

Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton said from that date it would be illegal for anyone to import tobacco without a permit or in contravention of permit conditions.

“This will deter trade in illicit tobacco by providing the Australian Border Force with new enforcement options, Mr Dutton said.

“Enforcement action may also be taken if import permit conditions are not followed.”

He said the duty framework for tobacco had also been strengthened.

“From 1 July importers will have to pay all customs duties on tobacco when it is imported into the country, rather than when it leaves the warehouse,” Mr Dutton said.

“Duty free stores and providores will still be able to offer duty free sales as previously. These tobacco products will be eligible for a refund of duties paid.”

He said that together, the measures would remove a key source of illicit tobacco and reduce the incentive for organised crime to target licensed warehouses, with leakages estimated to be the source of almost a quarter of the illicit tobacco market in Australia.

Mr Dutton said the Australian Border Force-led Illicit Tobacco Taskforce was established last year to investigate, prosecute and dismantle organised crime syndicates active in illicit tobacco importation and distribution.

Assistant Treasurer, Stuart Robert said combatting illicit tobacco was an important piece of the strategy to reduce the black economy in Australia.

“The measures form part of the illicit tobacco package announced in the 2018-19 Budget which is estimated to contribute $3.6 billion to the Budget bottom line,” Mr Robert said.

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