Future impact of serious and organised crime on Australian society

5 Dec 2007

The economic cost of countering current and future organised crime is difficult to quantify. This is due to the fact that organised crime groups pursue a diffuse and shifting range of activities. The committee found that organised crime imposes vast costs on all sectors of Australian society, and that these costs will continue to escalate.

In assessing the adequacy of current legislative arrangements, the committee discovered that Australia has taken some important steps toward establishing national legal regimes that are collectively hostile to, and effective in stemming, the activities of organised crime. These include the creation of statutory bodies such as the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) and crime and corruption bodies, and the recent development of anti money laundering and proceeds of crime legislation. However, the committee identified particular areas of concern in the conduct of contempt proceedings arising from ACC examinations and Queensland's lack of telephone interception powers. The committee also considered international experiences with laws proscribing organised crime groups, and relevant design factors in developing similar laws for the Australian environment. An abiding lesson of the inquiry is that legislative gaps or inconsistencies across Australia advantage organised crime and undercut the efforts of law enforcement. Australia must develop a harmonised legislative approach across all jurisdictions. This will require the ability to quickly identify legislative weaknesses and respond rapidly with well-designed laws.

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