May 2nd 2009

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Articles from this issue:

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Labor's 'people overboard' fiasco

EDITORIAL: Human rights consultation hijacked?

TRADE: Government pushes China free trade agreement

FIJI: Australia and NZ silent as China bankrolls military junta

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: From Baghdad to Beijing: Labor's dodgy dealings

TRADE UNIONS: WA unions host Cuban ambassador... Why?

ILLICIT DRUGS: Australia's $10 billion industry - organised crime

GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR: A desperate fight to the death

THAILAND: Land of smiles descends into turmoil

PRE-SCHOOL: Conscripting our toddlers for political activism

OPINION: Legislative assault on freedom of conscience

POLITICAL IDEAS: Crisis of credibility that has shaken the world

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Productive investment vs. financial speculation / Free speech curtailed for the sake of pluralism

Human rights hearings (letter)

Australia to import food? (letter)

Telstra (letter)

ETS to cost billions (letter)

CINEMA: Katyn - Sombre depiction of unpunished WW2 crime

BOOKS: REFUGEES AND REBELS: Indonesian Exiles in Wartime Australia, by Jan Lingard

BOOKS: GIRLS LIKE YOU: Four Young Girls, Six Brothers and a Cultural Timebomb, by Paul Sheehan

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Australia's $10 billion industry - organised crime

by David Perrin

News Weekly, May 2, 2009
The Australian Crime Commission's recent 16-page report, Organised Crime in Australia, deserves to be studied by every MP in the country, argues David Perrin.

Organised crime is conservatively estimated to cost Australia $10 billion a year, according to a recently published report by the Australian Crime Commission (ACC).

Big-time criminals engineer much of the serious crime in Australia in a systematic, well-planned way. Their activities include the smuggling and marketing of illicit drugs, money-laundering, fraud, the use of illegal firearms, and threats to the environment, technology and intellectual property.

Organised crime bosses are well resourced, use the latest technology, are resilient, adapt swiftly to changing circumstances, and employ well-paid legal and financial advisors.

Illicit drugs are responsible for at least half of Australian criminal activity, thanks to our country's massive domestic demand for drugs.

When you add to this illicit drug trade the money-laundering and fraud that go with it, the combined figure makes up at least 75 per cent of all organised crime.

The criminals responsible have an international dimension to their interests, although Australian criminals, some with ethnic backgrounds, also figure in the crimes.

Illicit drugs

The main illicit drugs from which organised crime derives its huge profits include amphetamines, ecstasy, cannabis, cocaine, heroin and ice (methamphetamines).

In Australia, outlaw bikie gangs are heavily involved in illicit drugs in the main capital cities, which is why we see so much violence among them as they fight their turf wars.

South-East Asia remains the primary source of heroin to Australia, with India a key embarkation point, according to the ACC report.

West African criminal networks operating in India may have assisted in also using the subcontinent as a key embarkation point for heroin to Australia.

Canada, Nigeria and Germany are the major embarkation points for cocaine into Australia.

Amphetamines create social problems for the Australian community and generate large profits for organised crime.

As amphetamines, ice (methamphetamines) and cocaine are marketed to young Australians as party drugs, these users do not fit the stereotype images of drug addicts.

Because of the huge profits derived from drugs, money-laundering is routinely used to disguise the origin of these criminal profits.

In this way, criminals use Australia's financial system and their well-paid connections to operate front businesses to repatriate huge sums out of Australia.

In Australia, only a small proportion of the estimated proceeds of crime are currently detected, restrained or recovered, according to the ACC.

The speed of fund transfers, their anonymity, reach and variety, and the sheer complexity of criminal financing are increasingly making the apprehension of these criminals more difficult.

Money-laundering methods involve financial and legal professionals who are employed by criminals to work around government regulations and controls in the financial sector.

The Australian Institute of Criminology has estimated that, in 2004 alone, money-laundering in Australia involved between $2,800 million and $6,300 million from crime proceeds.

These figures are likely to underestimate the extent of the problem.

With between 50 per cent and 75 per cent of all organised crime in Australia related to illicit drugs and associated activities, we must take urgent steps to deprive organised crime of the major source of its profits.

Our border protection agencies, with the best of intentions, find they are fighting a futile and losing battle to control imports of illegal drugs while there is such a high level of domestic demand for them.

Australia, however, can cut this demand by substantially reducing the huge number of illicit drug-users. After all, it is their demand for illicit drugs that ultimately funds these criminals.

International best practice has shown how illicit drug-users can be rescued from their habit by being made to undergo comprehensive detoxification and rehabilitation programs.

This rehabilitation must be directed and supervised by Australian courts so that drug-users cannot simply walk out of the programs whenever they wish. Without such compulsory, court-enforced rehabilitation, Australia's demand for illicit drugs will continue to drive organised crime.

The Australian Crime Commission's recent 16-page report, Organised Crime In Australia, is available at

The ACC is a federal body that looks at crime from a national perspective and has the endorsement of all of the police commissioners in Australia.

Its report deserves to be studied by every MP in this country.

Concerned Australians are urged to write or e-mail their local state and federal MPs, and urge them to get a copy and act on its findings.

- David Perrin is national president of the Australian Family Association and a former member of the Victorian state parliament.

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