National Conference Report 2018 (NNF 2017/328)

CBFCA National Conference Report 2018

With more than two hundred (200) delegates, speakers, sponsors and partners in attendance, the 2018 Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia Inc. (CBFCA) National Conference at the Sheraton on the Park, Sydney on 1-3 November 2018 was a resounding success and was highly acclaimed by delegates, sponsors and speakers.

In addressing the Conference theme, "Emerging Technologies Affecting International Trade" the regulators and key industry stakeholders recognised the need for Government and industry partnership and the CBFCA was acknowledged as the industry association the regulators will work closely with in the future to deliver on regulatory improvements and implementation of emerging technologies.

CBFCA has been a strong advocate in representing the interests of its members on national policy and process matters. An association with a long history (since its inception in 1904), demonstrates the ability of the CBFCA to move with the times, and recognised by Government agencies as the most represented and active industry association representing licensed customs brokers and freight forwarders in Australia.

The Hon.  Linda Reynolds, Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, set the scene in her opening keynote address on day one, presenting to delegates the Government trade modernisation agenda.

Ms Reynolds said “the Australian government was committed to digital transformation and becoming a global leader in innovation service delivery”.

The Department of Home Affairs was developing a trade-modernisation agenda with the aim of making international trade simpler, faster, but at the same time more secure. The current regulatory and compliance environment is complex. The goal of the single window was to streamline business processes and reduce red tape and also cost for industry.

This can be done by building a digital interface that allows trade-related documentation to be lodged once and reused multiple times by all government agencies. Delivering a single window is a complex task, particularly with the number of agencies involved.

The Australian Border Force (ABF) Commissioner Mr. Michael Outram said, emerging technology is continuing to transform the way business is conducted at the border, and also the way that the ABF facilitates trade and enforces the law at the border.

Commissioner Outram discussed the ABF’s priorities and the need to work together with industry to lay the foundation for Australia’s future international trading system.

The ABF has made trade enforcement an operational priority and works closely with Home Affairs portfolio agencies, as well as local and international partners to create a level playing field for business who do the right thing, by targeting those that do the wrong thing.

A presentation delivered by the Assistant Secretary, Inspections Services Group, Biosecurity Operations Division, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Mr. Rick Hawe, explained the Biosecurity conditions and controls continue to underpin active risk management and shaping our nation’s status as largely remaining free from the world’s most severe pests and diseases.

Australia’s biosecurity system is complex -trade patterns and volumes constantly evolving. Emerging biosecurity risks associated with forecast increasing trade volumes continue to challenge the department and industry.

The department risk-based approach to managing biosecurity is about the nature and impact of biosecurity risk and deciding when, where and how to intervene.

Comprising science-based approach and intelligence to target efforts, controls and/or intervention to areas where we can achieve the greatest reduction in biosecurity risk.

The department has experienced a high demand for services since commencement of the 2018 Brown Marmorated Stink Bug season, resulting in 26% increase in call presented, +25% increase in inspection bookings, +13% increase in Full Import Declarations processed, +18% increase in SAC Profiles Screened. Telephony, document assessment and inspection periodically outside published service charter.

Globalisation, migration, climate change and emerging biosecurity risks will be challenging in the future and will require the biosecurity system to focus on pre border, at the border and post border to manage the biosecurity risks, which is a shared responsibility, and the CBFCA will continue to work with the department to ensure the biosecurity system is resourced to manage the increased demand in the future.

The CBFCA believes the modernised Biosecurity Act must provide modern service delivery to clients in the future and help clients to comply with biosecurity requirements. We will continue to advocate this point to the department as we understand regulatory clearance delays at the border impact on CBFCA members and their clients.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) General Manager, infrastructure and transport, Matthew Schroder gave an overview of the ACCC’s findings in the Container Stevedoring Monitoring Report, and he provided some in-depth comment on the stevedores’ recent increases in infrastructure charges.

ACCC has been keeping a very close eye on this, and the CBFCA has been talking to the ACCC continually on this, as it is a really important transformation of a very important supply chain for the nation, and so, it does really need to be looked at carefully.

Mr Schroder said the ACCC considered that the impact of the charges should be subject to “strict scrutiny” from policy makers, and this is position is supported by the CBFCA.

Other key topics discussed by industry experts included, the digital freight landscape development, presented by Mr. Jonathan Charles - Managing Director, Mizzen Group and building an end to end supply chain to digitise the flow of trading information, presented by Mr. Matt Kuperholz - Chief Data Scientist, Pricewaterhouse Coopers Consulting (Australia) Pty Ltd and Mr. Cameron Hall - General Manager, Strategy & Innovation, Port of Brisbane.

Another topic of interest to custom brokers was a presentation from Mr. David Ware, Partner, Global Trade Advisory, Deloitte Tax Services Pty Ltd on customs data analytics for customs brokers using an online self-service data analytics too.

The last session for the day was a facilitated panel session by Scott Carson, Commercial Manager, CBFCA on “Blockchain Demystified” – what does it mean for our industry. This session provide an opportunity for industry to have honest discussion and be more informed about blockchain, and form their own opinions as to the business advantages and disadvantages, if and when this technology is fully utilised by the international trade and supply chain industry.

Panel members included: Tim Gray - Founder, Prophit Systems, Gerardo D'Angelo - Chief Operating Officer, Mind Tattoo, Andrew Hudson - partner, Rigby Cooke Lawyers, Adam Butler - Director / Licenced Customs Broker, Cable International Pty Ltd.

This was an engaging panel session with lots of questions and answers, which was the aim of this topic discussion, as blockchain is a new technology, and may take some time before it’s fully utilised for international trade, border clearance and supply chain management transactions.

Day Two of the Conference was devoted to regulatory compliance, cargo security, risk management, chain of responsibility and port and freight plans.

Mr. Stephen Hledik, Superintendent, Trade & Goods Operational Policy, Australian Border Force Governance Branch, Strategic Border Command provided an update on the ABF approach which focused on ahead of the border, at the border and after the border. At a past Conference Mr. Hledik said “Regulation adds value to your service” and the ABF objective is on voluntary compliance and working closely with industry. As trusted entities we all need to share the responsibility in the supply chain facilitation process. ABF needs to continue to work in collaboration with industry and with professional associations such as the CBFCA to reduce the regulatory burden.

The presentation from Mr. Dean Merrilees, Assistant Secretary, Compliance Control, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, focused on the future management of biosecurity risks for incoming cargo. The key biosecurity challenges include change of environment, outdates systems and technologies and intervention. The changing consumer and industry expectation, increases pressure for quicker, less obtrusive border screening, which is challenging the current biosecurity system as industry has experienced during the BMSB season.

Mr. Merrilees said the end goal is to effectively administer robust regulation to manage system-wide risk, while ensuring a seamless experience and reduced touchpoints for entities and individuals who actively comply.

As biosecurity is a shared responsibility, the partnerships with industry help the department to manage biosecurity risks. The department is willing to continue to work with the CBFCA to deliver on the modernised Biosecurity Act 2015 that aims to deliver regulatory legislative improvements as well as enhancements to trade facilitation.

Mr. Andrew Hudson, Partner, Rigby Cooke Lawyers spoke about the perils of being a licenced trade professional stuck in the middle of the supply chain and the risks and exposures of customs brokers, as customs brokers operate in a demanding and regulated environment subject to licence obligations and regulatory penalties.  

Mr. Matthew Pedler provided an update on Air Cargo Security Framework, the 1 March 2019 changes related to piece-level examination for all export air cargo, examination and clearance of air cargo by RACAs under an EACE notice and cargo originating from a Known Consignor is equivalent of piece-level examination.

A presentation by Mr. Nicholas Berry, Director, Freight Industry Engagement and Strategy, Transport for NSW provided an update on the NSW Freight and Ports Plan 2018-2023. The objectives or the plan is to drive economic growth, increase efficiency, connectivity and access, deliver greater capacity, improve safety and enhance sustainability. The CBFCA welcomes the plan which aims to improve the overall supply chain efficiency.

The last conference presentation was delivered by Mr. Steven Asnicar - Director, COR Australia, who provided an in-depth presentation on the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) - Chain of Responsibility Law Changes in 2018 and explained to delegates the importance for businesses and individuals to understand the legal liability and criminal prosecution aspects of CoR. Delegates had the opportunity to learn more about the COR law changes and develop a risk management system to assist in minimising business and individual risks.

In closing the conference CBFCA CEO Mr. Paul Damkjaer thanked the Hon. Linda Reynolds, Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, ABF Commissioner Michael Outram and all the other government and industry speakers, sponsors, CBFCA Administration and most importantly the members for their attendance and contribution to the success of the National Conference.  

But it was not all hard work, as well as the two days of conference content there was plenty of opportunity for social interaction. Delegates enjoyed the networking and social opportunity on the Thursday night at the Welcome cocktail function in the Sheraton on the Park bar overlooking the green park.

On Friday night delegates enjoyed the formal Gala Dinner and Awards night in the Ballroom at Sheraton on the Park.

The CBFCA recognised its 2018 National Award winners with presentations to businesses and individuals for their contribution to the CBFCA as follows:

National Awards

Sarah Lightfoot, Ausdrill Limited  - CBFCA Student of the year Award


Michael Cook – Geodis, New South Wales


Margaret Ng, Schoonmaker Investments Pty Ltd, Victoria


David Batchelor – Northline, South Australia

Robyn Brown – Geodis, Queensland (Award accepted by CBFCA CEO, Paul Damkjaer)

Famous Pacific Shipping (WA) Pty Ltd  (Award accepted by Nicole Cooper, CBFCA WA President)

Photos:  Ian Ackerman, Daily Cargo News

After a delicious dinner and awards presentations the live band fired up the crowd. As the evening continued the band played on and members danced and danced the night away. Some that did not want the night to end continued at the Sheraton bar.


We take this opportunity to thank all of the sponsors for their support, which enables the CBFCA to deliver a cost effective high quality event and we encourage members to consider the services of sponsors who support your national industry association, the CBFCA.

To view the National Conference Sponsors click HERE.


To download photos from the conference sessions and social events click HERE.

The feedback received has been positive with many delegates saying the information provided at the Conference was of critical value in assisting them with their business with presentations being both topical and informative. The most positive aspect is that the Conference provided an opportunity for delegates to make new contacts and expand their network as the fast changing business environment, which is dominated by electronic communication is limiting the opportunity for face to face interaction.

For those who missed the 2018 National Conference, the not to be missed 2019 CBFCA National Conference will be in Melbourne. Details of the dates and venue will be released by the CBFCA Conference Organising Committee soon.

Thank you for your support and we look forward to seeing you in Melbourne for the 2019 National Conference.

CBFCA National Conference Organising Committee