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2. About the agency

The agency’s mission is to protect the safety, security and commercial interests of Australians through border protection designed to support legitimate trade and travel and ensure collection of border-related revenue and trade statistics.

The agency also delivers a number of border services for other agencies. To do this, it works with an extensive range of stakeholders, including Australian Government and state and territory organisations, industry, international partners and the broader community.

The agency is one of Australia’s oldest, originating before Federation when the six colonies were frequently engaged in border disputes. The Australian Customs Service was renamed the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service in 2008, following the inaugural National Security Statement, which recognised the important role the agency plays in contributing to national security issues through its presence in the passenger, cargo, maritime and international domains.

The border environment that the agency works in is challenging and complex and has continued to evolve over the past decade. During this time, the volume of trade, travel and civil maritime surveillance tasks have dramatically increased, travel routes and supply chains have become more complicated, and criminal networks have become more sophisticated, agile and innovative.

Each week, the agency:

  • clears more than half a million international passengers and more than 270 ships
  • inspects around 2,000 containers, almost 30,000 air cargo consignments and hundreds of thousands of letters and parcels
  • conducts surveillance of nearly three million square nautical miles of Australia’s maritime domain to combat multiple maritime threats.

In 2011–12, the agency made more than 400 drug seizures a week on average, with 3,500 kilograms of drugs and precursors detected. The agency also stopped more than 5,000 undeclared firearms, replicas, air guns, parts and accessories from entering Australia, and collected $7.9 billion in revenue on behalf of the Australian Government.

The agency employs more than 5,500 officers, located in Australia and internationally. Central Office is in Canberra, with other offices located in state and territory capital cities, 29 regional ports and eight international locations.

The focus of the agency’s business model on frontline operations is seen through its structure, with more than 41% of the workforce employed as Customs Level 1 officers—Australian Public Service (APS) Level 3 equivalents. The workforce also has an average tenure of approximately 12 years.

The agency operates through two major programs with two non-aligned divisions (one a taskforce) reporting directly to the CEO Mr Michael Pezzullo (Figure 2).

Figure 2—High-level organisation structure

The multi-agency taskforce Border Protection Command also operates within the agency and reports to the Deputy CEO Border Enforcement, while also having accountability to the Department of Defence.

In 2012–13, the agency has departmental operating funding of $1,022 million. In addition, the agency has $64.97 million in departmental capital budget funding, and $59.68 million in capital funding for theacquisition of new Cape Class patrol vessels.

The agency, as set out in its annual plan, aspires to be:

  • the community’s trusted agent for border protection
  • respected by industry for the support it gives to legitimate trade and travel
  • valued as a partner by other law enforcement and regulatory agencies.