If you were to hazard a guess as to what country has the stricter immigration policies between Australia and the USA, I’m guessing most would think . that the latter wins the crown? You’d be forgiven for making that assumption given the current administration in charge but accprding to one man and his marketing company that regularly travels to both, Australia is the tougher border to cross.
SearchButlers is an SEO agency with offices in Melbourne and New York. The owner, Sean Butler has played the part of an immigrant in both Australia and America having lived in both countries over the last 6 years. It is his belief that Australian border and customs control is the strictest of the three. It takes longer to get through customs in the US but that’s just on sheer volume of applicants. The conversation with US officers is a cursory glance, verification question and then a stamp of your passport. In Melbourne airport, the process was exhausting and one stutter and the suspicions of the “real reason” he was there were raised. The truth is he was meeting his clients from the Melbourne side of his business. “It’s far easier to win clients overseas than it is to actually meet them face to face” posits Sean. I love Australia but it’s so far to come and if the guys on the frontline have any doubts then you best make sure your visa is up top date and all accounted for as its a long way to travel just to get sent back again. Thank goodness for the virtual meeting options that are available – still there’s no sun like an Aussies sun!
You would think that most border force officers have seen it all. From drug smugglers to illegal immigrants to people bringing exotic pets home in their suitcase. If you can think of the weirdest thing you’ve heard of that would be possible or necessary to import or export, it’s likely been tried and caught by the wonderful people at the ABF or other customs teams across the world.
When we asked James Blackburn of the ABF to name the things that were the weirdest to have seen he decided to not talk about snakes on a plane or heroin surgically embedded in someone’s legs, he talked about massage oil and g-strings! It was back in 2016 and the team at malestrippers.com.au had to catch a flight last minute to Las Vegas for their latest male dance troupe tour and they were late to the airport. In their rush, two of the guys had forgotten to check their massage oils into the checked baggage and took it through in their carry on. It was over the allotted mm allowance and was flagged by the scanners. When James’ colleague – a female officer opened the bag she pulled out to her happy surprise not just the oil but two black leather male g-strings for the show. It was busy at the airport there were gasps and cheers from onlookers and then a third colleague started to sing out loud – you can leave your hat on – a reference to the English movie “Full Monty”.
One of the guys started to pretend to perform and it was all in good spirits but we had to shut it down before Shirley got a bit carried away..Its safety first at The Australian Border. No time for a strip or a tease!…
According to David Day, ‘Customs had always been an uneasy amalgamation of clerical and law-enforcement divisions’. In the 1950s, the establishment of preventive officers made clearly defined organisational distinctions between clerical/revenue collection officers and those in a law-enforcement or community protection roles.
Preventive officers became the new face of Customs: the uniformed officers of the Service, who examined the baggage of arriving passengers, searched vessels and helped deter people from smuggling contraband into Australia.
By 1951, the Department of Trade and Customs has over 2700 staff at 35 offices across Australia, and in London and New York. Having relocated to Canberra in 1928, central office now comprises 363 staff, with the largest number of state-based staff in New South Wales at 1000.Department of Trade and Customs, Report of Activities, 1951
While contraband in the modern context generally refers to drugs, weapons and other prohibited imports, the importation of items such as clocks and transistor radios was once restricted. During the 1950s, a range of timepieces were seized as part of a major investigation in Melbourne. Pictured is former Melbourne Investigations officer Ray Funge with a selection of time pieces seized during an operation in the mid-1950s.Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, ‘History Corner’, CustomsNEWS [online], 49th edition, 13 March 2013.
Mrs Athena Antonopoulou (affectionately known as Mrs A) became one of the first women to join her male counterparts on the waterfront in the 1950s. Mrs A was employed as an interpreter with the boarding crew that met vessels as they approached Sydney Heads on their way into the harbour. Mrs A came to Australia with her husband, who was posted to Sydney as the Secretary-General of the Alliance Française organisation. With enviable multi-lingual skills at her disposal, Mrs A overcame the traditional hurdles of the day and was placed alongside the Customs men at the Arrivals Hall. Mrs A is also credited with creating the first female uniform, as one did not exist at the time.Day, David 1996, Contraband and controversy: the customs history of Australia from 1901, AGPS, Canberra. Wilson, Alistair ‘Mrs A, Customs Interpreter’, Australian Customs History Journal, no. 6, December 1994.
Under the White Australia Policy, non-European immigrants were required to write and sign a passage of 50 words in a European language as directed by a Customs officer. Those who failed the test were refused entry to Australia and were deported.
The most famous case involving the Dictation Test was that of Egon Kisch, a Prague-born Jewish socialist, who came to Australia to address the Movement Against War and Fascism in 1934. Upon receiving a telegram from Britain warning that Kisch was a communist, the conservative Lyons Government attempted to stop him disembarking, and when he was arrested, he jumped from the liner onto Station Pier and broke his leg.
Kisch was given the Dictation Test in Gaelic, due to his fluency in English and a number of other European languages, as an attempt to thwart his entry into Australia. However, Kisch took his case to the High Court and won.…
At the time of Federation most Australian colonies had introduced income taxes, each with its own rules and administered in its own way. This was further complicated with some jurisdictions recording tax according to a taxpayer’s residence, and other according to where the income was earned. Increasing populations and mobility between states following Federation saw these systems become problematic.
Federal income tax was introduced in 1915, in addition to existing state income taxes, in order to finance involvement in the First World War. The federal tax rates were low and borne largely by higher income taxpayers to minimise double taxation. Once the war had ended, the federal government continued to impose income tax. This meant that two tiers of government – state and federal – shared and competed for taxation revenue, under two different taxing systems that were managed by the separate bureaucracies. It wasn’t until 1942 that a uniform tax system was imposed. This shift towards taxation as a primary provider of revenue for the Commonwealth relieved pressure on Customs as the original source of federal income.…
12th/13th Centuries The origin of ‘Customs’ can be traced back to the 12th/13th centuries where it is referenced in the Magna Carta, as a long-standing term for the collection of duties on imports.
1810-15 Smugglers’ lookouts built at Barrenjoey and La Perouse in New South Wales.
1845 Construction is completed on the first Customs House in Circular Quay, Sydney.
1853Customs Consolidation Act – gives effect to Australian colonies taking responsibility for their own Customs, previously administered by England.
1854 A showdown between New South Wales and Victorian Customs officers occurs at Echuca, but conflict is avoided due the strong negotiating skills of the commanding officers involved.
1872 Edith Hanson, widely considered to be the first female Customs employee, joins the New South Wales Customs Department as a “typewriter”.
March 1883 Northern Territory Sub-collector Alfred Searcy conducts a patrol in the chartered cutter Silver Cloud to advise Malay fishing vessels on the Australian coast that they must be licensed and pay duty on the products they take. On his second voyage in Silver Cloud, Searcy collects duty levied on the catch on 3 Malay vessels he encounters on 26 December 1883.
1885-1887 Searcy draws up tariffs and initiates the collection of license fees from macassan trepangers (fishermen). Searcy’s 1887 tariff is used as a model for the first federal tariff in 1901. It is said that by the time Searcy left the Territory in 1896, it was largely subdued due to the efforts of the swashbuckling Searcy and staff.