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Tuesday, 24 October 2017
Page: 11746

Australian Federal Police

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:31): My question is to the Prime Minister. In question time today the Prime Minister said:

… every decision we've taken, every policy we have set out and every measure relating to the AFP is focused on ensuring they have the capacity to keep us safe …

How then does the Prime Minister explain an ABC report that has just appeared online, which states:

The July AFP memo revealed resourcing shortages left the AFP unable to properly investigate a 1.6-tonne cocaine importation, leaving it to be handled offshore.

This meant the operations of an Australian-based crime group behind the import could not be fully explored.

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:32): Mr Speaker, I'll invite the minister to add to this answer, but let me just say this: in terms of intercepting drug importation, we have seen record seizures—hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of drugs seized—and extraordinary cooperation between the AFP, Border Force, and police and security agencies overseas. We are cracking down on those drug importers on a scale never seen before, but I should say the challenge is on a scale never seen before and so we will need to do more and more. We understand that. But the combination of great policing, great investigation, great intelligence is a credit not simply to the AFP and the other agencies with which they work but also to the extra resources—intelligence, legislative and financial—that we are putting behind our effort to stamp out drug importation.

Mr KEENAN (StirlingMinister for Justice and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter-Terrorism) (14:33): I would just invite the opposition to look at the scoreboard that our law enforcement agencies have actually managed over the past four years: record seizures of cocaine, record seizures of crystal methamphetamine, record seizures of precursors such as ephedrine.

We've never seen a more coordinated and joined up effort from our law enforcement community: the Australian Federal Police working in conjunction with Australian Border Force and working in conjunction with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. We have seen these record seizures. We have sent our law enforcement agents out into the world incredibly effectively. Taskforce Blaze in China is the only joint task force of any foreign law enforcement agency with the Chinese national narcotics control bureau. That one task force alone, where AFP officers are working side by side with their Chinese counterparts, has stopped 13 tonnes of drugs from hitting Australian streets in the past two years—13 tonnes! We've now got similar task forces with the Royal Thai Police and the royal Cambodian police.

We do have a significant problem with the high demand for illicit drugs in Australia. We have been tackling it by tackling the supply side, and our efforts have never been more effective, with the law enforcement operations that I've just outlined. We've also tackled the demand side, particularly in relation to crystal methamphetamine, or ice, with the largest investment in drug and alcohol rehabilitation in Australia's history. I'm very pleased to report to the House, because this is the first time we've ever had comprehensive information, that we are seeing the embryonic start of the decrease in ice usage throughout the community. This is a direct result of the efforts of our law enforcement community, combined with what we've done to decrease demand for this insidious drug.