Customs scandal

So the Customs Service has been infiltrated by criminals. Okay – that sort of thing is always going to happen.

Watching Jason Clare – the Minister of Home Affairs – in the Press Conference, he seems to think this is the Howard government’s fault. It seems the previous government had a small compliance department in Customs of about five people now increased to 45. So fewer front-line staff and a cut in budget had nothing to do with the current scandal. The Police report that they have been investigating for two years and the latest person arrested was at Customs for six years. The current government have been in office five years.

I’m somewhat bemused that Clare has stated that he is happy to see heads on stakes and people being sent to prison for up to 25 years. Aren’t we all – hopefully that tough on law and order approach will flow though to all crimes.

Update 1: Clare wants to “put the fear of God” into all Customs staff. Sounds like systematic bullying and intimidation.

Update 2: Still blaming the previous government – but says “we weren’t looking two years ago”. Journalist says “Your government was responsible …”. Clare struggling to explain why nothing has happened until now. Too busy blaming Howard, I think.

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57 Responses to Customs scandal

  1. Brett

    A remarkable contrast to the government’s attitude and response to allegations of corruption and crime involving unions, union officials and their associates.

  2. johno

    Blaming Howard is a change from blaming the AbbottAbbottAbbott.

    Does this count as this government being imaginative and creative. Or is it just the same old crap?

  3. Helen Armstrong

    So if Customs themselves have corrupt elements within, are the baggage handlers clear?

    I am thinking of the famous boogie board that mysteriously had a lot of weed packed into it, and the allegation that it could have happened via the baggage handlers.

  4. Sinclair Davidson

    The journos asked that but it seems specific individuals were acting as couriers and were then walked through customs by allegedly corrupt customs officials.

  5. adrian

    more evidence labo(u)r is soft on border control

  6. Chris M

    Had Customs people stealing and ‘sampling’ my imports in the past, they are a law unto themselves.

  7. Eyrie

    Somebody missed a payoff?
    I think Kipling had some sympathy for smugglers.

  8. Alfonso

    This would require the collusion of the beagle dogs who run over baggage on the carousel and at exits…..or some dog handlers pulling their charges off the sit position….it’ll look awkward.

  9. ar

    Just face it, Labor; this whole “being in government” thing is not all it’s cracked up to be…

  10. Tom

    Clare struggling to explain why nothing has happened until now. Too busy blaming Howard, I think.

    From the children’s government, the impulse is always to treat the electorate like children. An adult who understands the first thing about politics gets kudos for accepting that corruption happens and taking responsibility. Clare just confirms most people’s belief that this government is an incompetent laughing stock as Newspoll found this morniing. If it wasn’t being protected by most of the media, its primary vote would be in the teens.

  11. If they didn’t hassle the bikie gangs so much we’d have a domestic drugs industry and wouldn’t need to worry about these imports.

    It just buggers up the balance of payments.

  12. Gab

    Yes, Clare seemed to get very angry at the reporter asking questions not sanctioned by the minister. Perhaps the reporter didn’t receive the daily Labor talking points and pre-approved questions. Hopefully he won’t get sacked for merely doing his job of asking the “wrong” questions.

  13. Token

    …he seems to think this is the Howard government’s fault.

    Labor learned another lesson from the poll in the US in November.

    Obama got away with a lot by blaming Bush 4 years after he took control of government.

    Why wouldn’t Labor blame the previous government even though they have controlled the bureacracy for the last 5 years and they made hay over customs during the Shapelle Corby trial?

  14. tylos

    Some expert on ABC24 referred to a review of Customs in 2007 that had none of the recommendations implemented. Gee, wonder who has been in power since 2007…

  15. tylos

    And another thing that’s bugging me. Last night ABC radio reported that Channel Ten had made some claims about corrupt Customs staff and that Customs would make an announcement tomorrow. The ‘news’reader had a dismissive tone.

    Suddenly this morning the story is branded an ABC-Fairfax investigation! Looks like Home Affairs had been briefing their luvvies with all the details for ages, expecting the usual rod-polishing.

    Someone forgot the suppression order was removed yesterday and Ten got in first with actual reporting.

  16. .

    Ten got in first with actual reporting

    That’s newsworthy in itself.

  17. C.L.

    So the Customs Service has been infiltrated by criminals.

    Like the ALP.

  18. Sean

    ‘put the Fear of God’

    The cartels will just have to corrupt atheists then.

  19. Token

    Ten got in first with actual reporting

    You lie.

  20. hammygar

    It does take time to reverse the absolute mess the Howard government made of things. I think the Minister’s criticism is spot on.

  21. Gab

    Well of course you do, Hammyeggs. You are from the Shorten school of “I agree with whatever any Labor minister said”.

  22. Lew

    Problem solved.Minister Clare has set up his Customs Reform Board and that’s sure to terrify those criminals of Middle Eastern descent particularly as one of the Board Members is ex-police Commissioner Moroney who is fondly remembered for the very “strict” handling of those dreadful white Anglos who had the temerity to publically demonstrate their displeasure with Police “response” to their complaints stretching over two years.The main outcome of those complaints was to withdraw Police from the Cronulla Police Station and effectively reduce it to a shopfront.A decision which was much appreciated in the South-Western Ghetto.

  23. harrys on the boat

    Great, Lemmiwinks is back, fresh from Mr Slaves arsehole, to deliver his latest stand up routine.

  24. kae

    Hi Helen
    The boogie board bag was packed with dope, not the board.
    I’m not even sure the boogie board was in the bag, the dope was shaped to fit in the bag.
    Strange how so many people came forward with stories of finding drugs in their luggage at their holiday destination but nothing has ever come of that. Noone has gone to the federal police or anyone about it.

  25. thefrollickingmole

    Ive been ushered through customs without checks in a few countries including Australia.

    When we did deportations it wasnt unusual to pass through countries without a visa stamp.
    My old passport showed me going from Perth to ??(KL) to Paris and back again.

    There was an understanding that it was easier to wave us through the side than get caught up with temporary documents etc which our deportees usually had.

    So for those wondering, it is extremely easy to bypass the dogs/checks, it may even be the importers never had a passport stamped.

    I would always have an easy “out” of Australia and other countries, but usualy got funny looks when my passport was looked at coming back in (due to missing stamps from transit countries), but all I did was go “immigration ACM, just back from a deportation” and all was fine.

    Its quite possible there is a similar thing happening which has been exploited by the crims.

  26. James of the Glens

    The automaton hamster: “I’ll have what he’s having”.

  27. Harold

    I’ll get crony-ism/nepotism has played a hand in their recruitment.

    At Vicroads car rebirthers had their own people inside taking care of registration formalities.

  28. Knukklz

    Just a thought with blaming the previous government, wasn’t that headed by KRUDD?

  29. Harold

    bet crony-ism… played a role.

    Age reports one of the officers had previously been found by police in a car with bags of cocaine. No barrier to employment at the Australian Dope Importation Customs Service.

  30. H B Bear

    I suppose if you have been in Government for 5 years without any real achievement you are entitled to blame Howard. I’m still wondering why Rudd wanted to be PM in the first place. So is he.

  31. Des Deskperson

    Customs was traditionally considered as one of the ‘dumb’ agencies, along with Tax and Immigration, with poorly educated staff from a narrow cultural background recruited and promoted through cronyism and nepotism – many officers were second and even third generation.

    The agency was supposed to have addressed these issues in response to the Midford Paramount debacle in the early 90s, but it is still considered, fairly or not, as a place for mediocre public servants to transfer to if they can’t get promoted anywhere else.

  32. kae

    Although I’d surmise that there’d be a few boards out there packed with dopes.

  33. Infidel Tiger

    If they didn’t hassle the bikie gangs so much we’d have a domestic drugs industry and wouldn’t need to worry about these imports.

    This sounds rater protectionist to me.

    We can’t grow coke unfortunately.

    Australia should stick to its natural advantage in marijuana growing.

  34. Infidel Tiger

    Mole, customs don’t stamp passports these days unless you ask them to.

  35. jumpnmcar

    I don’t want to jump the gun but the snippets I’ve seen of the accused seem to have similar ethnicity.
    I’ll wait till all are identified before forming a conclusion.

  36. duncanm

    IT,

    would could always revive the plantations in Java. They were huge in the ’20s.

  37. Infidel Tiger

    could always revive the plantations in Java. They were huge in the ’20s.

    That would be a great idea.

  38. Tel

    I’ll get crony-ism/nepotism has played a hand in their recruitment.

    Very interesting to know when they were hired then. That would rather settle the question on whose watch it was at the time.

  39. Tel

    The cartels will just have to corrupt atheists then.

    … or God, whoever comes cheaper.

  40. handjive

    Either side can spin it with whatever.

    The only result/product to come from prohibition is corruption.
    It achieves nothing else.

    They (Lib/Lab) both enable the system to continue so the criminals and their lawyers get richer while our jails fill with our youth attracted by the money they see the ‘revered’ criminals flaunt.

    Nothing will change until the war on drugs is declared corrupt failure.

    Try this link:

    Portugal Decriminalized All Drugs Eleven Years Ago And The Results Are Staggering

  41. RedneckRuss

    As the Gillard government lurches into 2013 yet more chickens/ skeletons come home to roost.

    Not long now!!

    RussR

  42. Alice

    DavidL whatever says

    If they didn’t hassle the bikie gangs so much we’d have a domestic drugs industry and wouldn’t need to worry about these imports.

    It just buggers up the balance of payments.”

    comment of the day LOL….

  43. ralph

    for over 35 years I have had personal experience with the corruption of the Australian Customs dept but because ACS is EXEMPT from normal Parliamentary review anyone who dares to challenge them is soon silenced … ACS have been the MOST corrupt agency operating our side of Parliament under and special ACT that can only be called total Fascists so woopee for the dumb sheep in Australia because YOU deserve what the ACS has perpetrated on your once fine land … you think Newtown in Connecticut is a problem wait and see what been going on in your own back yard while you were sticking your heads in the sand shame on you all … where is your RON PAUL instead of those failed lawyers you keep electing to rob you and destroy your people!

  44. ralph

    It sounds like Harald has the same FIRST hand experience I have … if AUssies only knew what the ACS has done to the youth all under the cover of supposed fair dinkum governments who are ALL on the kickback train … except a few independents.

  45. Jim Rose

    15 arrests imply systemic corruption. It would have to handle staff turnover.

    New staff would have to broached to see if they were approachable, as Sir Les Patterson would say.

    Some would not have reported these approaches. Others turned a blind eye.

    There is a need for a federal ICAC

  46. Des Deskperson

    It might be pertinent to note that Mike Pezzullo, the Customs Dep Sec (appointed in 2010) who is fronting the media on this, worked in Gareth Evans’ office when the latter was Minister for Foreign Affairs back in the 90s.

    This doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s a Labor maaate, but its a reasonable prima facie suspicion.

  47. Keith

    The good old ACS – the department that said “no smuggling outside office hours, weekends or public holidays”. A bit like saying “guns are prohibited in this school”.

  48. Keith

    Customs was traditionally considered as one of the ‘dumb’ agencies, along with Tax and Immigration, with poorly educated staff from a narrow cultural background recruited and promoted through cronyism and nepotism – many officers were second and even third generation.

    Des don’t be shy, just come out and say it – they were 95% Catholics.

    Having said that Des, they were still sharp enough to catch a couple of Ministers, back in the day.

  49. Des Deskperson

    But on the other hand, Keith, the outcome of the inquiry into the Midford Paramount case ought to have made any ACS employee vomit with shame.

  50. Gab

    Customs? i thought she said it was the baggage handlers?

  51. jupes

    Not sounding too far out now, is she?

    Wasn’t it the baggage handlers the last time?

  52. C.L.

    Corrupt airport baggage handlers are also allegedly involved.

    Customs staff linked to airport drug ring.

  53. Gab

    It’s frustrating when people don’t read links supplied. :)

  54. jupes

    If I remember correctly:

    Mum – “The Corby family has never had anything to do with drugs.”

    Woops – younger brother gets busted.

    Woops – Turns out dad’s best mate got done for dope sold in vacuum sealed bags – coincidently the same as Shapelle was busted for. They had been mates for ages and the family moved into adjoining properties.

    But hey, it was baggage handlers/customs. Whatever.

  55. C.L.

    But hey, it was baggage handlers/customs…

    Which is entirely believable, as it turns out.

  56. jupes

    Which is entirely believable, as it turns out

    Except Corby was smuggling dope out of Australia.

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