16 July, 2015
Almost seven tonnes of major illicit drugs and precursor chemicals have been prevented from reaching Australia’s streets in the first ten months of the last financial year.
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said that protecting Australians and keeping drugs off the street is a key priority for the Government.
“Labor cut Customs jobs and funding to the cargo screening program by $58 million in the 2009-10 Budget and total budgetary cuts to Customs of $734.8 million would have been delivered by Labor to 2017-18.
“The cut to the screening program resulted in the number of sea cargo inspections being reduced by 25 per cent and resulted in a reduction of 75 per cent in air cargo inspections.
“The Coalition Government provided additional funding of $88 million to the former Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) to increase screening of international mail, air cargo and sea cargo which has led to increased detections.
“Detections of illegal drugs and precursor chemicals are up from 4.2 tonnes in 2013-14 to 6.8 tonnes in the first 10 months of the 2014-15 financial year.”
The largest border detections within this period were made in New South Wales and Victoria. Nationally, in just the month of April, international mail accounted for 883 detections of major drugs and precursors, with 89 detections in air cargo, 13 detections in air passengers and six detections in sea cargo.
The biggest detection in this period was 2.8 tonnes of narcotics (almost two tonnes of MDMA and over 800kg of methamphetamine) which had been hidden behind a shipment of domestic household effects at the back of a sea cargo container.
Mr Dutton said the Coalition Government is committed to funding and resourcing Border Protection.
“Gangs seeking to profit from the misery and addiction of others by peddling illicit narcotics are on notice - the Australian Border Force is getting results.”
People with information about narcotic smuggling should call Border Watch on 1800 06 1800. Information can be provided anonymously and could be the missing link which leads to a major drug detection.
Further information: John Wiseman or Merryn Royle – 02 6277 7860