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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 747

Mr CHESTER (GippslandMinister for Infrastructure and Transport) (15:42): I appreciate the contribution by the member for Grayndler. The government has closely considered the amendments put forward by the member but will not be supporting these amendments by the opposition. We believe that 'serious or organised' is far broader than 'serious and organised' and will capture people with a serious criminal conviction or organised crime conviction or both. So, whilst we understand the points being made by the member for Grayndler, we do not agree with his amendments. The government has committed to strengthening background-checking regimes to ensure that individuals with links to serious or organised crime cannot obtain access to our airports and our seaports, and the inclusion of combating serious or organised crime at seaports and airports into the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 and the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003 will help keep illegal guns and illegal drugs off our streets.

The government is committed—as I acknowledge that the member for Grayndler has indicated that the opposition is committed—to keeping Australia safe. We believe that stopping people with a serious criminal conviction or an organised crime conviction or both from gaining access to secure areas at airports and seaports is a crucial part of this. I accept the comments made by those opposite during the second reading debate on the bill that they are very committed to reducing particularly the amount of illicit drugs on our streets, but I do not believe that you can say, on the one hand, that you want to reduce illegal drugs in our community and, on the other hand, water down attempts to intervene in the drug trade. I believe this bill is a step in the right direction and the government is not supporting the amendments put by the member for Grayndler.

Can I just say more generally in relation to the National Ice Taskforce: as the member indicated, the 2015 final report of the National Ice Taskforce echoed the concerns of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement and Intelligence at its inquiry into the adequacy of aviation and maritime security measures to combat serious and organised crime. Now, it noted that the growing use of ice in regional Australia must be recognised and appropriately addressed. The legislation before the House is helping to address that issue. Mr Deputy Speaker, I know that from your personal experience in your own electorate that you know the impact of illicit substances, particularly ice, is one of great concern in our regional communities and also of great concern in particular in our Indigenous communities. I think that ice has managed to penetrate parts of our community that we thought would never be impacted by the use of illicit drugs, so I do take the contributions from those opposite very seriously—just as the government takes its responsibilities very seriously in relation to its response to the National Ice Taskforce.

We believe this is a step in the right direction in reducing the opportunity for ice and other illicit substances to reach Australia, but also a step in the right direction in preventing individuals and criminal gangs or syndicates which traffic those illicit drugs or, indeed, traffic illegal guns, from having access to our major transport links.

So I just repeat that the government will not be supporting the amendments from the opposition.