Retail lobby group slams Customs review over failure to consult with industry

The Australian Sporting Goods Association (ASGA) has labelled a review into Australian Customs as “incompetent” due to its failure to consult key industry stakeholders.

The review by the Low Value Parcel Processing Taskforce was initiated by the Federal Government following a Productivity Commission report in November last year about the future of the retail industry.

In establishing the taskforce, Labor MP Bill Shorten emphasised that it would “consult the views of expert stakeholders.”

Despite making a detailed submission to the Productivity Commission, ASGA executive director Brad Kitschke, says he was only advised last week that the taskforce draft report is due to be released by the end of this month.

“The ASGA is one of the leading organisations in raising these issues and for us not to be engaged at all that is just plain incompetence,” Kitschke says.

“There is no way that they did not know they needed to talk to us.”

The ASGA was invited to attend one meeting, six weeks into the review, but representatives were unable to attend due to other commitments.

The association was not contacted again until five weeks later when it was advised the draft report had already been written, despite the taskforce’s failure to contact key stakeholders.

The ASGA wrote to Jason Clare, the Minister for Home Affairs, Justice and Defence Materiel, last week complaining about the lack of consultation.

The letter states: “As it stands I have not been advised of what the Terms of Reference are, who is undertaking the review, what the process of the review is or what the timeline is.”

Once the letter was sent the ASGA was invited to meet with the Low Value Parcel Processing Taskforce on Thursday, but for Kitschke it is too little too late.

He claims the meeting is unlikely to be productive as he has only just received the terms of reference and so has not been given a chance to consult with the ASGA’s members on the document.

The ASGA has several key concerns it wants to raise with the taskforce but is concerned the lack of consultation to date indicates a disregard for these concerns.

“We would like to raise the inefficiencies in customs that need to be corrected and [that] other jurisdictions around the world manage to administer a lower threshold and it is not a cost prohibitive,” Kitschke says.

“I understand that they have spoken to a couple of the retail associations but again it has been a case of pick and choose who they talk to rather than having a proper stakeholder engagement.

“It undermines industry confidence in this review.

“It is really difficult from an industry perspective to have a level of trust and confidence in the process when it has not been transparent.”

Customs was approached for comment but was not able to respond prior to publication.


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