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Ruddock welcomes the Senate's passing of people smuggling legislation.



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Media Release

The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

 

RUDDOCK WELCOMES THE SENATE’S PASSING OF PEOPLE SMUGGLING LEGISLATION

 

MPS 107/99

Wednesday 30 June 1999

 

The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, today welcomed the Senate’s passing of the “people smuggling bill” saying this was an important step in sending a strong message to smugglers that Australia should not be considered a soft target.

 

Mr Ruddock said the legislation is aimed at the profiteers from people trafficking who organise individuals or groups to enter Australia illegally.

 

The Minister said that under the legislation:

 

  • a new offence of knowingly organising the illegal entry of groups of five or more people will carry a 20 year jail penalty and a fine of up to $220,000

 

  • the penalty for individual instances of people smuggling will rise from two years to 10 years’ jail with a fine of up to $110,000.

 

  • there will be no time limit for instituting a prosecution for people tra fficking offences

 

Mr Ruddock said it was now just a matter of the House of Representatives agreeing to the Bill and then sending it to the Governor General for assent. He said once the Bill became law it would considerably strengthen the Government’s abil ity to deal with the on-going people trafficking problem.

 

“I believe the proposed new offences will serve as a deterrent and make it clear to would-be perpetrators and the Australian community that the Government considers people trafficking to be a very serious issue,” Mr Ruddock said.

 

“The arrival of yet another boat at Ashmore Reef yesterday with some 60 people on board - bringing to nearly 300 the number of people who have arrived in Australia illegally this month - makes the early implementation of this legislation essential.”

 

Mr Ruddock said that since January this year some 840 people have arrived illegally by boat and in the current financial year to date some 930 people had arrived by boat. A further 1555 people arrived illegally at Australian airports in 1997-98.

 

ENDS

 

Media inquiries: Susan Sare 0407 415 797

 

 

rw  1999-07-02  11:27