Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
It is a privilege to be here today, amongst some 500 industry professionals with interests that span the remit of Home Affairs and broader Government policy making.
I also like to acknowledge the Executive Officers of the Department of Home Affairs here today as well as the Officers who have worked so hard to produce another successful Industry Summit.
Collaboration and cooperation between Government and business is crucial and events such as this only seek to bring us closer. Just as it is in all aspect of public policy development and implementation.
There is no greater responsibility for any Federal Government than the safety and security of its borders and its citizens.
Today's the world that is increasingly connected – and if our nation is open for business, we all benefit.
The prosperity and success which comes from being connected to the world around us exposes us to what is good in our world but it also exposes us to the bad and the ugly in human nature.
For many, people are to be exploited, either for profit or for criminal and terrorist outcomes.
Keeping our nation safe is a collaborative endeavor.
That means harnessing the expertise and knowledge we have across industry and the private sector.
I commenced as the Assistant Minister for Home Affairs two months ago. I am deeply conscious of the responsibilities I have including Customs and Trade, Emergency Management and Crisis Coordination and community safety.
There are many ways to serve our nation. Be it in a military uniform as I was, or in yellow and orange in emergency services.
But I believe many of you out of uniform play an important part in keeping our nation safe and secure – by working with the Government every day to counter these threats.
As Minister Dutton this morning, with the establishment of the Home Affairs Portfolio, the Government is far better positioned to work with industry and businesses to meet 21st century threats head on, and secure our prosperity.
It is working, but again not in isolation.
Efficient traveler facilitation across our borders is one of my key responsibilities. What a task we face.
Australia's border is one of the largest in the world—our coastline stretches over more than 37,000 kilometres.
The Government is committed to achieving the seamless facilitation of legitimate travelers and goods across our large continent and border.
While at the same time stopping people and goods coming through who we want to keep out.
An issue requiring our immediate attention is the modernisation of our border processing systems -- updating technology that is no longer supported, or approaching end-of-life.
Travelers are becoming accustomed to user friendly services commensurate with digital technologies, and expecting border clearances to happen quickly.
If we fail to keep pace with emerging technology, we risk both our reputation and competitiveness on the international stage.
This is further complicated by the increasing volumes of goods and people crossing our borders annually.
Over the next four years, we predict a 34 per cent increase in imported air cargo consignments, a 13 per cent increase in sea cargo reports, and the doubling of international mail.
The Government aims to have 90 per cent of passengers cleared through automated border processing by 2020.
We have also committed over $150 million to the New Traveler Platform, Seamless Traveler, and Passenger Card projects.
Just as the travel industry is increasingly moving towards the use of biometric technologies to facilitate and enhance the passenger travel experience, so too is the Government.
Primarily by increasing the use of biometrics for visa assurance and border processing at air and sea ports.
It is essential that we collaborate closely on the use of biometrics in order to capitalise on this advancing technology, and inform industry best practices.
Last financial year, approximately 26 million travellers used automated SmartGates at our international airports—averaging more than 71,000 people every day.
The Department recently installed next generation SmartGate technology at Canberra Airport, leading the way in new and innovative technology.
These gates—which use biometrics to identify travellers and eliminate the need to present a passport—contribute to our aim to have the majority of travellers experiencing expedited border clearance, while still maintaining security and the integrity of our border.
I am also responsible for trade facilitation and how we can improve the seamless facilitation of goods through modernisation.
Established just over two years ago, Australian Trusted Trader enables Australian businesses to receive recognition for their secure supply chains and trade compliant practices.
It marks a major leap forward in how we manage increasing trade volumes and complexities in the international supply chain.
The program has resulted in expedited border clearance for participating businesses, and improved risk targeting for our operational agencies.
Australian Trusted Trader is estimated to save Australian business $3.5 billion over the 10 year period to 2025, through greater efficiencies and savings that support trade growth.
In recognition of the program's benefits, membership has more than doubled over the past year, with more than 230 Australian businesses benefiting from streamlined trade processes.
Other initiatives being considered as part of the trade modernisation agenda include an enhanced single window for international trade.
A single window is a one-stop, digital touch-point for industry, allowing all trade-related information to be lodged and accessed by multiple Government agencies.
An enhanced single window would streamline business processes, reduce red tape for industry, and improve compliance with regulatory frameworks.
We must also modernize of maritime goods and cargo processing.
Currently there are as many as 30 different paper forms required during this process—often duplicating information required for different government border clearance agencies. We are committed to easing this burden on business.
The Maritime Advance Processing Digital Forms Project also aims to develop innovative technology and business processes to streamline and simplify border clearance in close collaboration with industry.
The level of industry participation in a series of workshops hosted this year has been outstanding.
I encourage you to continue bringing your suggestions to future consultations, which will allow us to reach an agreed position on the project. We need to balance the efficient facilitation of commercial trade with necessary security requirements.
In my portfolio I also have responsibility for federal firearms policy.
This is an issue of serious criminality in Australia, requiring us to be constantly vigilant and agile in our policy and law and enforcement responses.
Not only is cooperation between all levels of Australian government essential, cooperation with industry to control the black market in firearms.
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission conservatively estimates that the size of the illicit firearms market is over 260,000.
Through Operation Athena, the Australian Border Force and Home Affairs are working hard to target and reduce criminal access to firearms.
Organised crime groups continue to attempt to infiltrate the supply chain—such as freight forwarders, warehouse or postal services.
They seek to gain employment within these fields or access to businesses with access to illicit firearms trade.
With the assistance of industry and business we can implement robust integrity measures to prevent this.
We need to ensure security and identity checking is occurring across the supply chain—particularly where access to supply chain information systems is granted.
Similarly, the Government is committed to disrupting the illicit tobacco market and dismantling the criminal syndicates that support it. This market results in loss of vital Government revenue, and serious criminals are able to channel illicit profits into more insidious criminal activities.
In fact illicit tobacco costs Australian taxpapers about $600 million a year in lost revenue. Leakage from licensed warehouses contributes to around a quarter of this figure.
Home Affairs is continuing to tackle the illicit tobacco trade by implementing the 'black economy' package of measures announced in the 2018-19 Budget.
An Illicit Tobacco Task Force has been established, led by Border Force. Since 01 July 2018, it has seized in excess of 8.6 tonnes of smuggled tobacco and 33 million smuggled cigarettes. This represents more than $31 million in attempted duty evasion.
Additionally, we have a new framework to maintain integrity of tobacco duty collection. From 1 July 2019, duties for imported tobacco will be collected at the border, rather than when the tobacco leaves a licensed warehouse.
And from 1 July next year, businesses wishing to import tobacco will need to obtain a permit.
We believe these amendments will protect law-abiding businesses and make it tougher for criminals to defraud the Australian community of revenue that should be invested into critical services hard-working Australians rely on.
Home Affairs will provide further information to industry in coming months about these measures, including the transitional arrangements that will support industry through these changes.
The final issue I discuss today is one very close to my heart; recognizing and tackling modern slavery.
The term is used to describe a range of exploitative activities including human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices such as servitude, forced labour and marriage –– each of these are serious exploitative practice and grave violations of human rights that have no place anywhere in today's world.
Even more fundamentally, I believe Modern slavery practices are a denial of personal, of democratic, freedoms. Freedom from servitude.
Modern slavery rarely involves chains or obvious physical control over the victim.
Perpetrators typically use more subtle forms of coercion such as threats and deception to maintain power over their victims, who are often powerless.
The United Nation's International Labour Organization estimates there are currently 40 million people around the world caught up in modern slavery. Of the victims, about 25 million are exploited in global supply chains, including about 16 million in private sector supply chains. About 15 million are in forced marriage.
Sadly our region is also the global epi-centre of modern slavery with about two-thirds of victims are in the Asia-Pacific region.
The exploitation of vulnerable people is a lucrative business. Slavery alone generating more than $190 billion annually––that's more profit than Apple, Exxon, Chevron, Microsoft and Facebook combined.
Awareness of the problem is gradually increasing, and international efforts to combat it are gaining momentum.
In September, the Morrison Government's Modern Slavery Bill 2018 passed through the House of Representatives and is now due for debate in the Senate.
The Bill is a wonderful example of what we can do with politicians, industry and civil society work together on shared policy outcomes.
The legislation will encourage business and government to work together to stem modern slavery practices.
More than 3,000 businesses and other entities will be required to publish annual public statements. These reports will outline the actions they have taken to address risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains.
The reporting requirement will apply to all entities in the Australian market with over $100 million in consolidated annual revenue.
Business and Government both have vital roles to play in the fight against modern slavery and we are committed to continuing to collaborate with you as we implement the reporting requirement.
Taking steps to fight modern slavery is not only the right thing to do because each of us will have unwittingly contributed to it.
It will also benefit your business as consumers and investors begin rewarding companies that are taking meaningful action.
This is an exciting new era of collaboration between industry and business and the Department of Home Affairs and broader Portfolio, and I am pleased to share in it with you here today.
By working together across the range of shared issues and initiatives—such as those Minister Dutton and I have spoken about— we can keep our nation safer and more secure.
Thank you for your ongoing commitment to working together to find better ways to facilitate people and goods across our borders – while working towards a safer and more secure nation.