Labor’s latest job cuts to Customs leave our regional ports vulnerable
Posted on Thursday, 26 July, 2012
Customs once again has been forced to cut vital frontline staff as a result of Labor slashing its Budget – a move that will leave Australia vulnerable to the importation of illegal guns, illicit drugs and other contraband, Shadow Minister for Justice, Customs and Border Protection Michael Keenan said.
“40 jobs across 14 major ports will be cut, allowing weak points to develop in Australia’s border security and leaving them susceptible to penetration from criminal syndicates,” Mr Keenan said.
“One of the 14 major ports to be hit by Labor’s axe is Mackay, where last year their Customs staff managed to intercept many illegal drug shipments, including one where they seized 87 kilograms of cocaine – a task that is made far more difficult by these latest cuts.
“It is unacceptable that this Labor Government is slashing Customs Budget at a time when gun crime and drug use is rife within our community,” Mr Keenan said.
“The Minister for Home Affairs, Jason Clare, keeps talking about his Government’s plans to be tough on crime yet seemingly his Government’s actions tell a very different story:
· Labor cut $25.9 million and 190 staff from Customs in the 2012-13 Budget.
· Customs have been forced to cut 40 jobs across 14 major ports in order to cope with Labor’s funding cuts.
· Labor cut $133 million and 25 staff from the Australian Federal Police in 2012-13 Budget.
· Labor cut aerial surveillance by $20.8 million and 2,215 aerial surveillance hours (or more than 90 days)
· Labor cut boat interception funding by $48.1 million over the forward estimates.
· Labor have axed a further 90 staff from Customs on top of the 250 cut in the 2010-11 Budget.
· Customs CEO Michael Carmody was recently forced to cut 1 in 5 senior executive service officers to cope with the Budget cuts.
· Labor have cut $9.3 million in 2014-15 to Customs (plan to reduce capital spending and other ‘low-risk’ organisational activities).
· Labor are cutting $34 million over four years for passenger facilitation at Australia’s 8 international airports.
· Cuts of $17.3 million over five years for the management of vessels of illegal foreign fishers (destruction of unseaworthy vessels).
· In the latest MYEFO it has been estimated that $35 million will be cut from Customs over the forward estimates.
“The hard working men and women of Customs are not only trying to prevent guns and drugs from ending up on our streets but are also one of the frontline agencies trying to combat the people smuggling debacle at our borders.
“At every turn their task is being hindered by the Labor Government whose actions show up their rhetoric about being serious about tackling crime,” Mr Keenan said.