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Stiffer smuggling penalties ahead of Australia’s ugly pack imposition

| October 11, 2012

The Australian federal government seems to be concerned that cigarette smuggling will increase with the imposition from December 1 of its requirement that tobacco products are sold in ‘plain’, ugly packs.

According to an Australian Associated Press story, people involved in tobacco smuggling inAustraliaare to face criminal charges under new changes to customs law.

The Senate today passed an amendment to the Customs Act that creates criminal offences in the case of those smuggling, conveying or possessing contraband tobacco products.

The shadow attorney-general, George Brandis, despite supporting the amendment, criticized the government for its “inconsistent and incompetent” handling of the issue.

He accused Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, of claiming that tobacco smuggling didn’t represent a major threat toAustralia.

“If there is no major threat why is it necessary to legislate?” Brandis asked.

“This is clearly an issue on which the government is in denial.”

Brandis said figures showed the illicit tobacco trade inAustralialast year was worth an estimated $1 billion in foregone tobacco excises.

The Customs Amendment (Smuggled Tobacco) Bill 2012, which carries a 10-year jail term for tobacco smuggling, passed without dissent.

Category: Breaking News

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