Political Guts

Drugs, Customs and AQIS

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Keeping the pests out of our country

Australia is a large island with a small population, with a small budget to police a huge coastline.  We have a number of international airports and major international shipping ports, and a poorly funded screening system to protect Australia from the dual problems of accidentally or deliberately introduced substances and pests which are or could be disastrous to our country in some or many aspects, from areas on the planet where those pests and substances originate.

However, the solutions are not that difficult technologically, but they are politically challenging.  They will be unpopular with many people, with many international countries and governments and people, but they will protect our shores.

How important is it?  The Equine Influenza epidemic cost almost half a billion dollars in a few months.  Fire Ants cost another half a billion dollars to eradicate.  Many of the illicit drugs in Australia are imported illegally, and they cost the Australian community many billions of dollars in the areas of crime losses, criminal preventative and recovery measures, jails, medical costs and rehabilitation, the deaths of many addicts and the cost of those addicts in our community.

If a disease such as the bee virus that has almost wiped out the bee industry in California and threatens the New Zealand industry arrived in Australia, as the only country on the planet free of the disease now, it could mean the extinction of the majority of plant life on earth within a few decades and therefore, global starvation.  It’s not a topic to treat lightly.

We need a beefed up quarantine system and highly improved border controls.

If we look at the two areas independently to begin with, we will see the solutions overlap as we go.  However, they are fundamentally different in focus initially.

Drugs and drug importation are a deliberate attempt to profit from the sale of prohibited, dangerous substances that can and do kill and maim our citizens.  Highly technical criminals operate in a world of unlimited budgets and astronomical financial rewards and require forces in kind against them.

The AQIS plant and animal quarantine issues are different and are often the result of neglect, carelessness or a by-product of importing something genuine from an infected area.  It is usually not the intent to import that substance or biological hazard, but the import when loose in our environment runs unchecked and can cause huge problems in our rural industries.

New technology in the area of scent detection could enable us to virtually “sniff” out prohibited imports.  This is very new technology, but could be incorporated into shipping ports and cargo/freight terminals, airports, customs areas and postal/customs clearance areas, calibrated to detect the prohibited imports and seized before entry or on entry and destroyed before a problem occurs.  This would include drugs, bio-hazards, and chemical substances coming in unaccompanied through freight entry areas and drug courier type situations such as drug mules in airports.

Drug smugglers are importers of death and need to be treated in the same manner as premeditated murderers – life sentences, without parole.  Investing huge sums of money into a premeditated operation to import drugs is no different to planning a mass murder.

Coastal and border protection is another issue and requires an attitudinal change.  We have a huge coastline and it needs policing.  We can do it, with a combination of coastal radar and high-speed patrol boats, fixed wing aeroplanes and helicopters, based on larger patrol boats.  Over the horizon radar and satellite imaging will complete the surveillance and defence network, with capability for both surveillance and weapons guidance if required.  Coast Guard needs to become a term with a serious meaning and application to this area of critical need.

Our coastal waters abound with small boats and yachts from around the world.  Some are genuine pleasure craft, with genuine international travellers.  Some are genuine local pleasure craft and local holidaymakers.  Some are genuine local fishing vessels or coastal traders.  Many are illegal fishing boats or smugglers of either substances or people.  All could be plotted on radar in the same way that air traffic control manages airspace around airports.

What to do with illegal entry vessels and people is simple, blunt and effective.  The boats are to be sunk at sea after removing their oil and fuel supplies to prevent pollution, to provide artificial reefs for fish habitats.  This eliminates the chance of biohazards and disposal of illicit substance imports.  The people from the boats are strip searched or at the very least, body patted, their limited personal belongings taken from the vessels searched by customs officers and what needs to be eliminated is left on their vessel to be sunk.

Those people are to be returned to their country of origin immediately, deported as illegal entrants to Australian waters without authority.  If they are drug smugglers, their treatment is prescribed above.

In the case of refugees, a decent processing system is being established and they need to be processed within a period of weeks, rather than months or years, and decisions made regarding their futures in very short time, to enable them to either return to their country of origin, or to be resettled in the appropriate new country.

The coastguard vessels and aircraft are to be empowered to use deadly force in the event that pursuit is required for vessels trying to evade policing, and survivors collected from the vessels either before or after sinking, without apology.  They would have detainment areas on board and a rapid transport system for transferring detainees to relevant locations.

The message sent to the rest of the world is that Australia does not tolerate illegal fishing, or drug or people smuggling and we greatly treasure and protect our shores from infestation from flora, fauna and biohazards.

The message for drug smugglers is that we value and treasure our youth and citizens and that we do not tolerate any of these hazards to our communities or national treasures or economy.

If you think this treatment is harsh and brutal, I invite you to take a fishing boat to the waters off Iran, South East Asia, Africa, or anywhere in the South China Sea.  You will find that we really do treat people, even criminals, very well, compared to many of our near neighbours.  If you think we are harsh with refugees and illegal immigrants, try resettling in Japan, China, Iran or almost any other country in the world, without a valid permit.  No matter how harsh you think our detention centres are, again, ours are far better than some of the global alternatives.

There's something to be said for living in a basically Christian, capitalist, open and free society.  It's open, its free and worth striving for.  It's also worth protecting, and handing over to our children, as still an open and free society.

Back to Defence, Border and Coastal Protection

Putting the pressure on our politicians and leaders, to take the decisions that need to be taken right now, to solve the problems we have, that we already know how to solve!