(1) The Secretary or Australian Border Force Commissioner must take reasonable steps to return a thing seized under this Division when the earliest of the following happens:
(a) the reason for the thing's seizure no longer exists;
(b) it is decided that the thing is not to be used in evidence;
(c) the period of 60 days after the thing's seizure ends.
Note: See subsections (2) and (3) for exceptions to this rule.
(2) Subsection (1):
(a) is subject to any contrary order of a court; and
(b) does not apply if the thing:
(i) is forfeited or forfeitable to the Commonwealth; or
(ii) is the subject of a dispute as to ownership.
(3) T he Secretary or Australian Border Force Commissioner is not required to take reasonable steps to return a thing because of paragraph (1)(c) if:
(a) proceedings in respect of which the thing may afford evidence were instituted before the end of the 60 days and have not been completed (including an appeal to a court in relation to those proceedings); or
(b) the thing may continue to be retained because of an order under section 487Z; or
(c) the Commonwealth, the Secretary , the Australian Border Force Commissioner or an authorised officer is otherwise authorised (by a law, or an order of a court, of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory) to retain, destroy, dispose of or otherwise deal with the thing.
Return of thing
(4) A thing that is required to be returned under this section must be returned to the person from whom it was seized (or to the owner if that person is not entitled to possess it).