Ac­tion must be taken

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS -

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s plans to es­tab­lish an Il­licit Tobacco Task­force headed by the Aus­tralian Bor­der Force has been met with mixed re­ac­tion in Co­bram.

The task­force will be sup­ported by the ATO and will fo­cus on in­ves­ti­ga­tions and in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing in an at­tempt to dis­man­tle il­licit tobacco sup­ply chains.

The gov­ern­ment hopes to raise about $3.6 bil­lion in ad­di­tional rev­enue over four years us­ing the task­force.

The an­nounce­ment fol­lows the in­tro­duc­tion of a leg­isla­tive re­form pack­age ear­lier this year aimed at in­creas­ing penal­ties for crim­i­nals found guilty of il­licit tobacco of­fences.

The an­nounce­ment also fol­lows the re­cent re­lease of a KPMG re­port which found il­licit tobacco had in­creased to 15 per cent of the to­tal tobacco con­sumed in Aus­tralia in 2017, mark­ing a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease from the pre­vi­ous year.

A Co­bram busi­ness­man said tougher laws were a great idea pro­vided they were en­forced.

‘‘Un­less the laws are go­ing to be en­forced, peo­ple won’t fol­low them and will con­tinue op­er­at­ing as they al­ways have,’’ he said.

‘‘We know there are il­le­gal traders in town and they need to keep be­ing raided un­til they get the mes­sage that it’s not on.

‘‘Il­le­gal shops con­tin­u­ing to op­er­ate is a kick in the guts for all le­git­i­mate busi­nesses in town. Why should law-abid­ing busi­nesses have to put up with this?’’

The busi­ness owner also said it would be help­ful if Co­bram res­i­dents re­fused to sup­port il­le­gal sell­ers of tobacco.

‘‘I un­der­stand why peo­ple go to il­le­gal sell­ers, be­cause it’s cheaper,’’ he said.

‘‘But they must re­mem­ber the le­git­i­mate busi­nesses are the ones who do­nate to lo­cal causes and spon­sor sport­ing clubs.

‘‘We can’t do that if we don’t get sup­port from lo­cals.’’

❝We know there are il­le­gal traders in town and they need to keep be­ing raided un­til they get the mes­sage that it’s not on.❞ Co­bram busi­ness owner

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