Thursday, 4 April 2019
Law Enforcement Committee; Report
On behalf of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement, I present the following reports:Examination of the Australian Federal Police annual report 2016-17—Report, April 2019; Examination of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission annual report 2016-17—Report, April 2019; Impact of new and emerging information and communications technology—Report, April 2019; and Theft and export of motor vehicles and parts—Report, April 2019.
Reports made Parliamentary Papers in accordance with standing order 39(e) .
by leave—Firstly, I would like to thank all the committee members on the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement, especially those members who sit on the opposite side of the chamber. It is not often that we get to sit and work together and discuss issues in a bipartisan way. I congratulate the members of the opposition on their conduct throughout all committee meetings. I would also like to thank the secretariat for the excellent work that they did throughout the term of this parliament.
On the export and theft of motor vehicles, it's interesting to note that, last year, there were over 1,000 cars a week stolen across Australia, but that is down 60 per cent from 2001. In fact, in 2001, we had 145,000 motor vehicles stolen in this country. Thankfully, that was reduced to 53,000 last year. But a thousand a week is still far, far too many. And those that have had their motor vehicles stolen know that the cost of the inconvenience, with the things that you have in your car, is often difficult to put an economic value on and often far exceeds the value of the car.
There are certainly things that can be done in this space to continue to drive that number down, especially where it involves the federal government and law enforcement agencies. I think one of the most important recommendations that we made was that we amend the Customs Act 1901 and the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 to make it a specific offence to export stolen goods, including motor vehicles and motor parts. Surprisingly, that is not in there. There is no prohibition under those acts about exporting stolen motor vehicles. I think that would be a very good step that could be done from the recommendation of this report, and I hope that in the next parliament this is taken up.
I'd also like to quickly comment on the committee's work on the illegal tobacco inquiry. This is becoming a more prevalent problem in our society. Although, again, we want to drive down the rate of smoking in this nation—and price is definitely one of the triggers that we have to drive that rate of smoking down—we must acknowledge that, as we do that, we are increasing the opportunity for smugglers. Cigarettes can be purchased legally overseas—legally made and manufactured in the country of origin, unlike illegal goods—and shipped to Australia for less than $2 a packet. Where we are trying to push the retail price up to $40 and $50 a packet, we are creating an enormous opportunity for smugglers and illegal activity. So, if we continue to go down the pricing-prohibitions path, we need to ensure that we give our law enforcement agencies the adequate resources that they need to tackle this growing problem. I thank the House.