22 September 2023
Who does this notice affect?
Industry participants who submit documentation via the Cargo Online Lodgement System (COLS)
What has changed?
The department anticipates that its ability to meet the client service standards timeframes for the assessment of Import documentation of Non-urgent commodities will come under further pressure in the short to medium term.
However, the department anticipates that it will continue to meet the published service standards timeframes for Urgent commodities.
High volumes of entry lodgements continue to be received and the department expects this trend to continue with the commencement of the 2023-24 Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) season.
The department has not been immune to the workforce pressures which have been experienced by the broader economy. Tight labour markets have created capacity pressure through staff retention and attraction challenges. Budgetary pressures that lead to recruitment restrictions during the 2023-24 financial year have impacted the department’s ability to achieve desired staffing levels.
Self-Assessed Clearance (SAC) workload remains at high levels and is expected to increase in the lead up to the traditional Christmas peak.
What are we doing to manage workload demand?
The department has implemented a range of strategies to assist with the management of workload. These include:
- The department has been reviewing the risk associated with various commodities coming into Australia. This has and continues to result in a lower referral rate and less intervention for a number of commodities while maintaining a strong and effective Biosecurity system.
- The department is finalising a recruitment process that will see over 30 staff commence in assessments. The onboarding of new staff will commence in October 2023.
- Workforce capacity within the Section is being temporarily diverted to document assessment functions
- Requests to perform document assessments outside of business hours will continue to be facilitated subject to capacity.
How can industry assist?
Industry can assist to ensure timely turnaround by:
- Increasing uptake and usage of AEPCOMM. An analysis of Automatic Entry Processing for Commodities (AEPCOMM) data for the period from January through August this calendar year, has highlighted underusage by industry participants. Of the 335 604 eligible entries, 102 588 were processed through AEPCOMM arrangements for this period. This equates to a AEPCOMM usage of 30.6%.
- Ensuring that documents are lodged well in advance of arrival of the goods
- Ensure that documents and other information is lodged completely and accurately and in line with the departments minimum documentary requirements and import conditions. The demand on assessment functions continues to be compounded by higher levels of lodgements with either insufficient documentation and or document errors. These lodgement issues have a significantly impact on overall document assessment delays. An analysis of the 2022-23 financial year lodgement data indicates:
- 13.2% (39.3k) of lodgements had insufficient documents.
- 5.5% (16.2k) of lodgements had document errors.
- Ensure any specific additional information is included in the ‘additional information’ field in COLS.
- Regardless of the expected assessment outcome, nominate a valid Approved Arrangement (AA) inspection location, preferably with the AA registration number and name, to avoid additional processing delays.
- Please do not repeatedly call or email the department checking on the status of a lodgement for document assessment – this compounds the delays as it removes resources from document assessment to responding to queries.
- We encourage SAC clients to investigate the possibility of participating in the SAC paperless process. This feature automatically retrieves documents upon referral from the ICS. Please see Self assessed clearance cargo: how we work with industry - DAFF (agriculture.gov.au) for further information.
Please contact the department on 1800 900 090, via COLS using the enquiry function, or via the online contact form.