by Alan Thornhill
People caught smuggling tobacco in future can expect to be jailed for up to ten years.
Legislation, just introduced into Federal Parliament will create a specific new offence of smuggling tobacco, or conveying or possessing smuggled tobacco
The Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, said: “The Government is proud of its world-leading action to combat smoking.
“ This legislation reinforces our commitment to that cause,” she added.
“Current penalties for illegal tobacco importation are very low compared to other serious instances of fraud against the Commonwealth,” Ms Roxon said.
“This new offence means tobacco smugglers face prison time for the first time,” Ms Roxon said.
Meanwhile, a new study has linked second hand smoking with increased obesity and Diabetes 2.
A study of over 6,000 people presented this week at the US Endocrine Society’s Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas showed that adults who are exposed to secondhand smoke, have higher rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes than those who are not exposed to it.
Study co-author Dr The study’s co-author, Theodore Friedman of Charles R. Drew University, Los Angeles, warned of the consequences.
He said: “More effort needs to be made to reduce exposure of individuals to secondhand smoke.”
by Alan Thornhill
The Speaker of the Federal Parliament, Peter Slipper, attacked “trial by media” when the House of Representatives resumed today for its budget sittings.
In a brief speech before he vacated the Speaker’s chair, Mr Slipper noted that James Ashby had made allegations against him.
These included claims of sexual harassment and misuse of Cabcharge documents.
Mr Slipper said the new sitting had given him his first opportunity in Parliament to strenuously deny the charges brought against him.
He said, too, he believes he is entitled to a presumption of innocence, in the circumstances.
But he added: “It is unfortunate that trial by media seems to have become the order of the day in this country.”
Mr Slipper then stood down, and allowed the Deputy Speaker to take the chair.
by Alan Thornhill
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has acted decisively to isolate her government from scandals surrounding Peter Slipper and Craig Thomson.
She has suspended Mr Thomson from the Labor Caucus – and asked Peter Slipper not to resume his position as Speaker until allegations against him have been settled.
These actions will leave her government in a precarious position in the House of Representatives.
Labor will now have to supply an Acting Speaker, when the Parliament resumes on May 8, for the Budget session.
However, its situation was eased, somewhat, by Mr Thomson’s declaration that – although sitting as an independent – he will continue to vote with the Labor government.
Tony Abbott said this should not happen.
“If you want to disown Craig Thomson, you’ve got to disown his vote too,” the Opposition Leader said.
Despite Mr Thomson’s promise, the Gillard government will be left with the barest of margins, as the Budget sessions start.
The continuing support of all independents will be vital to its survival.
However, Ms Gillard was adamant that she had made the right choice.
‘”Australians are entitled to expect that people in public life uphold the highest standards,” she said.
But the Prime Minister also cautioned that her actions should not be seen as a judgement against either man, as both are entitled to a presumption of innocence.
Mr Slipper, too, has now agreed to stand aside, until allegations made against him have been settled.
The Speaker is facing allegations of fraud, over his use of Cabcharge documents and a charges that he sexually harassed a young staffer.
Mr Thomson is facing allegations of fraud, arising from his time as a National Secretary of the Hospital Services Union.
Mr Thomson told reporters that he would continue to sit in Federal parliament, but would become an independent.
He added, though, that he would continue to support the Labor government.
These changes mean that Labor will have to supply an acting Speaker, when Federal parliament resumes, for its budget sessions, on May 8.
This will leave the Gillard government with the barest of margins, as those sessions start.
The continuing support of independents will be vital to its survival.
Mr Slipper is facing allegations of fraud, over his use of Cabcharge documents and an allegation that he sexually harassed a young staffer.
Mr Thomson is facing allegations of fraud, arising from his time as a national secretary of the Hospital Services Union.
Julia Gillard has asked MP Craig Thomson to quit the Labor Party
But Mr Thomson said:””I am still a Labor person…
“I will be supporting Labor’s agenda…
“Clearly I am not going to be part of the Caucus process.
“But broadly I will be supporting the Prime Minister’s position in terms of the reform agenda.
Certainly in terms of no confidence motions, supply motions,” he said.
by Alan Thornhill
Luxury cars, including Rolls Royces, a Lamnborghini and an Aston Martin have been seized in a police and Tax Office crackdown on crime and tax evasion.
Altogether, assets worth some $40 million were seized by Federal police, as part of Operation Wickenby.
The Federal Justice Minister, Jason Clare and Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury, congratulated the police on their success.
They said the seized assets are believed to be the proceeds of crime generated through an elaborate tax evasion and money laundering scheme.
“ The Commonwealth Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce today executed six warrants in NSW and Queensland and charged a 67 year-old man with conspiring to dishonestly cause a loss to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and conspiring to deal in the proceeds of crime to the value of $63 million,” the two ministers said in a joint statement.
The assets also included a Mercedes Benz car, a BMW and yachts.
The two ministers said: “today’s seizure was the result of a seven month joint operation – Operation Beaufighter – between the Australian Federal Police and the ATO.”
“Organised crime is driven by money.
“Take away their money and assets and it reduces the incentive to commit crimes,” Mr Clare said.
“The Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce was set up in January last year to target the profits criminals make.
“Just like with Al Capone – you can catch criminals by following the money.”
“ This is the first time the Australian Federal Police has conducted litigation to restrain assets on behalf of the Taskforce since the legislation came into effect in January this year giving the AFP powers to commence and conduct proceeds of crime litigation,” the two ministers said.
Weathercoast by Alan Thornhill
A novel on the murder of seven young Anglican Christian Brothers in the Solomon Islands.
Available now on the iTunes store.
Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.
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