AUTHORITIES TO CLAMP DOWN ON CARGO-CRIME AND CORRUPTION
A series of moves to harden international trade, and the border, against cargo-related crime, corruption and infiltration have been announced. An expansion of the counter cargo-crime task force into Brisbanewas announced by Justice Minister, Jason Clare. Task force Jericho, modelled on Polaris and Trident, is a multi-agency law enforcement initiative to target organised cargo-related crime in Brisbane. Officers and staff from the Australian Federal Police, Customs, the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Tax Office and Austrac will be deployed. Approximately $5.6 m has been spent by the federal government to expand the Task force Polaris model, set up in July 2010, to Melbourne and Brisbane. Since July 2010 there have been 44 arrests, resulting in 196 charges as part of Task force Polaris as well as the seizure of 199 tonnes or $77 million worth of illegal tobacco and the seizure of $1 million in cash and 11 firearms. Task force Trident was established in Melbourne in July 2012 which has led to 16 arrests and the seizure of 71 tonnes or $61 million worth of illegal tobacco. Minister Clare has also announced a ‘blueprint’ for hardening Customs against criminal infiltration and corruption. This includes, among other things, setting up a special adviser to manage the investigation of serious cases of misconduct; begin fixed tenure periods for staff; tighten up policy around secondary employment by, for instance, requiring approval; improve staff checking processes; ban all use of mobile phones in all sensitive operational areas; introduce anti-corruption impact assessments; re-structure the Customs agency internally by introducing new career streams around functional areas and by setting up a ‘strategic border command’; patrol more on the waterfront, at the airport and in remote areas and build a partnership with the Australian Federal Police. A variety of other measures were also announced including working with industry to provide trusted and compliant traders with expedited border clearance.