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Rudd needs to clarify: are criminals running our docks?



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The Hon SUSSAN LEY MP Shadow Minister for Justice & Customs Federal Member for Farrer www.sussanley.com 27 February 2009

MEDIA RELEASE For immediate release

Rudd needs to clarify: are criminals running our docks?

The Rudd Labor Government does not consider the security of Australia’s ports to be a priority, as it has clearly not taken action towards upgrading the security clearance needed to work on wharves around the country.

In October 2008, Shadow Minister for Justice and Customs, Sussan Ley, called on the Rudd Labor Government to upgrade the criteria for issuing Maritime Security Identification Cards, yet it was revealed in a Senate Estimates hearing today that nothing has been done to rectify the potential security threats.

“Around 10 per cent of those people approved for a MSIC have a criminal history. Apparently this is allowable because their conviction has not been specific to a maritime-security-relevant offence” Ms Ley   Ms Ley said information given in Senate Estimates revealed how it is possible to be cleared to work in Australian ports even if you have been convicted of violent offices, or convicted of drug-related offences and not sentenced to imprisonment.

“Sea containers house the largest volumes of illicit drugs that come into Australia and criminals and organised criminal syndicates rely on workers in the maritime environment to move illicit drugs from one country to another.

“It is impossible to say what quantity of illegal drugs is slipping through the net” Ms Ley said. “But we do know that the prices pad for illegal narcotics in Australia are the highest in the world so there is every reason for organised crime syndicates to target this country”

“It is better to act now rather than wait for a serious breach of security to demonstrate that it is absolutely critical that the Rudd Labor Government create more robust criteria before allowing people access to Australian ports,” Ms Ley said.  

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Media contact Debbie Brown (02) 60213264 0428 297699 debbie.brown@aph.gov.au