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Serious and organised crime costing Australia $36 billion

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The Hon Michael Keenan MP Minister for Justice

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Counter Terrorism


18 December 2015

Serious and organised crime costing Australia $36 billion

Organised crime represents an ongoing threat to this country. They are violent predators who profit from the misery of evil trades.

Modern technologies are enabling organised criminals to expand their reach globally and inject themselves beyond traditional business models into new markets - increasing the misery being peddled and generating greater proceeds from crime.

Australia has become a target for organised criminals from all around the world because Australians are paying top dollar for the misery these crooks peddle like the drug ice.

Users are not only bankrolling the criminals that are infiltrating and destroying our communities with their dangerous drugs, but they are ensuring our nation remains a lucrative market for international crime syndicates.

New analysis by the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) has revealed that serious and organised crime is costing the Australian economy $36 billion per year - more than double previous estimates.

There is a perception among some people who take drugs that their illegal activities hurts no one, but it’s actually costing every Australian more than $1500 - and sadly for some Australians, it has cost them their lives.

Our law enforcement agencies are going as hard as they can with all the tools we have provided, but these efforts will always be challenged by organised gangs and their criminal business models if there is a lucrative market to exploit.

That is why since coming to Government we have invested heavily in our law enforcement and intelligence agencies to boost their efforts to detect, disrupt and undermine the business models of organised criminals.

We have invested $74 million in the National Anti-Gangs Squad with strike teams operating in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia with liaison officers in other jurisdictions, and $18 million to strengthen the Australian Crime Commission’s international engagement, including through the deployment of officers to Dubai, Hong Kong and the United States.

The is boosting our international cooperation to crack down on organised criminal syndicates responsible for the exportation of ice to Australia, including through Taskforce Blaze - a joint agency taskforce between the Australian Federal Police and the Chinese National Narcotics Control Commission focussed on investigating organised criminal syndicates responsible for the exportation of ice to Australia. This is the first ever joint agency taskforce of its kind.

The $36 billion figure takes into account the costs of serious and organised criminal activity ($21 billion) and the cost of prevention and response initiatives ($16 billion).

Prevention and response costs include the costs incurred by law enforcement, the criminal justice system and other government agencies, the private sector and the general community in responding to, and preventing organised criminal activity.

This is the first time the ACC has estimated the cost of serious and organised crime on the economy. It does not represent an explosion in crime, rather an improved understanding of the cost impacts to government, the community and the private sector.

This will assist Government and our law enforcement and intelligence agencies to make an informed response to tackling this evolving market.

The project was led by an independent expert economist and criminologist, and was subject to review by a range of experts including law enforcement officers, criminologists and economists.

To view the ACC’s public summary visit

Media contact: Emily Broadbent 0400 390 008 or Shannen Wilkinson 0476 820 816