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Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Page: 7909

Mr TIM WILSON (Goldstein) (12:22): It's always good to see you in the chair, Mr Speaker. The point of the Unexplained Wealth Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 is really quite straightforward: if you do the crime, you don't keep the dime.

Ms Rishworth: How long have you been working on that one?

Mr TIM WILSON: That is the basis on which I support this legislation. It isn't just that if you do the crime, you don't keep the dime—just to repeat it for the interjecting member—but also, of course, if you find the dime and you've done the crime, there's a consequence. The actions of organised crime syndicates often have tragic human consequences like theft, violence and, in the worst cases, of course, loss of life.

There are also economic costs associated with criminal behaviour. The wealth accumulation of criminals costs this country tens of billions of dollars each year. They engage in behaviour like illicit tobacco, which I spoke about recently. We have seen people take advantage of government policy that creates high consumer surplus for interchangeable products, and they don't deserve their wealth. What they do deserve is justice. These crooks use to their advantage discreet monetary networks across jurisdictional boundaries and borders to undermine the rule of law; to undermine decent, legal activity; and to the benefit solely of themselves at the expense of our community, the government and our nation at large. That's why a national approach is necessary for our law enforcement agencies with the tools to seize back the wealth that has been taken nefariously and that they acquire by robbing our communities of their health, wellbeing and safety.

That's what this bill seeks to achieve. It recognises that, where people work hard, earn, save, pay taxes and operate in the regular economy, their effort is rewarded and respected. It ensures that those who seek to circumvent that process to their own advantage and to society's detriment will face justice. This bill will allow the Australian Federal Police to confiscate the assets of criminals that obtain their wealth illegally by engaging in illegal practices. It will also allow state and territory agencies to use lawfully intercepted telecommunications information in unexplained wealth matters. Now, don't misunderstand: in this space where people have wealth, I'm not a big fan of a government coming along, surveying and seeing what people are doing. I'm not a big fan of having a big-brotherish approach, even if it is the Tax Office or the AFP or any other regulatory body intercepting what private citizens are doing lawfully. But where there is a basis that people have been doing things unlawfully at the expense of the community at large—including not just unexplained wealth for their own private benefit but also invariably because of activity that is not taxed and that is not treated equally to those of good citizens who are doing the right thing—we do need to take action.

This scheme was recommended in the Final report of the National Ice Taskforce 2015. I know, from the Goldstein community and from talking to many other members in this place, including often those who are representing disadvantaged communities or those in rural and regional areas, that ice is having a horrendous effect and impact on individuals, families and communities across our great Commonwealth. The government's National Ice Action Strategy is expanding access to early intervention and treatment, particularly for high-risk populations. But we must also choke the supply of illicit drugs.

The scale and the complexity of the drug-peddling criminal networks should not intimidate us in this place. We are here to uphold the rule of law and to make sure that it is enforced. They are lining their pockets with wealth gained from human misery and tragedy. It's encouraging to see such strong cooperation with the states and territories in designing this national cooperative scheme with the leadership of the Commonwealth, particularly the New South Wales government, who introduced the supporting legislation only earlier this year. By creating a national cooperative scheme, the unexplained wealth regimes across all jurisdictions will be strengthened so that we can have the legal framework we need, as a nation, to uphold the rule of law so that those people who do the right thing are rewarded and carry no more of their share of the burden on the community as a whole, and so that those people who do the wrong thing face confiscation and justice and contribute, disproportionately, the consequences of their ill-gotten gains. I recommend the bill to the House.