THE AUSTRALIAN Border Force is determined to stamp out smuggling and the “black economy”, Deputy Comptroller General of the Australian Border Force, Dr Bradley Armstrong says.

Dr Armstrong, also the group general manager of customs, spoke at the CBFCA national convention in Melbourne.

“We take black economy activity seriously because they have serious consequences,” he told the gathering.

“Avoiding customs duties or taxes gives those who behave unlawfully an unfair advantage over legitimate businesses.


“Smuggling counterfeit goods can have serious health and safety risks for our community.”

Dr Armstrong used an example of smuggled electric goods to make his point about safety.

“Almost all counterfeit electric goods that we have detected have subsequently found to not contain heat retardants or other essential safety features to prevent fires and electrocution,” he said.

He also noted many cases of counterfeit toothpaste and counterfeit medicine in Europe with “serious health consequences”.

“Black economy behaviours, including illicit trade, are routinely connected to deeper criminality,” he said.

“We devote significant resources to prevent such behaviours at our borders and we rely on [customs brokers] to help us detect illicit trade.”

Dr Armstrong also noted significant recent developments, notably the re-incorporation of customs into the Australian Border Force on 1 July, 2019.

“Industry have told us, wherever we’ve gone, that that is a good decision,” he said.

“Prior to that, we were the Trade and Customs division of the Home Affairs Department. That move was part of a functional realignment within the ABF to promote operational efficiency, provide clear lines of accountability and reduce duplication.”