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Rudd lets ports infest with criminal activity.



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Media contact: Penny Watts (02) 6021 3264 0428 213 264

The Hon SUSSAN LEY MP Federal Member for Farrer Shadow Minister for Justice and Customs

25 June 2009 MEDIA RELEASE For immediate release

Rudd lets ports infest with criminal activity

Kevin Rudd and Labor can no longer pretend that there are not serious crime and national security problems in Australia’s ports and airports, Shadow Minister for Justice and Customs, Sussan Ley, said today.

“The findings of the Australian Crime Commission’s (ACC) investigations into criminal activity and weaknesses in security at our ports and airports must be a wakeup call to Rudd Government.”

The ACC’s Chief Executive Officer, John Lawler, said when releasing the report that criminal infiltration in the maritime sector was shown to be involved with the importation of illicit drugs into Australia and that the ACC had identified the presence of organised criminal networks and outlaw motorcycle gangs in the maritime sector.

Ms Ley said the Coalition had long been calling on the Rudd Government to take national and border security seriously, but so far the Rudd Government’s record on border security had been one of funding and staff cutbacks.

“Airports and ports are the frontline in our national and border security but in their last Budget Labor slashed front-line security operations at ports and airports by $17.1 million and cut great swathes of staff from at our border security agencies,” she said.

The national director of People and Smuggling Intelligence Division in Australian Customs and Justice, Jeff Buckpitt said during an ACC committee hearing that criminality on our wharves “increases the vulnerability for sea cargo to be used as a means for the importation of illicit goods”.

Ms Ley renewed her call today for an overhaul of port security, including customs cargo screenings, the state of security portside, MSIC (Maritime Security Identity Card) measures, and to reverse the budget cuts to Customs.