Fund Boost To Tackle People Smuggling

Fund boost to tackle people smuggling

Tom Allard, Jakarta
The Age
May 7, 2009

The Federal Government will announce a $400 million package to combat people smuggling in next week's budget.

The Government plans an aggressive strategy to extradite the leaders of human trafficking networks for prosecution in Australia.

As well as significant new money for the joint Customs and Defence effort to patrol the sea routes to Australia's north, the package will seek to engage neighbouring countries by bolstering their law enforcement and immigration surveillance.

The funding boost follows the influx of hundreds of asylum seekers to Australia by boat this year.

Spread over four years, the extra money will assist various government departments and agencies, from Customs and Defence to Immigration, Foreign Affairs, the Australian Federal Police, the Director of Public Prosecutions and Attorney-General's Department.

For the AFP, the funding increase will amount to about $60 million. Much of that money is expected to be allocated to improve the equipment and training of Indonesian police, who have formed a close working relationship with their Australian counterpart.

The enhanced co-operation is expected to lead to more extraditions of people smugglers to Australia, with a new framework to be developed for Indonesian police to collect evidence that can be used in trials in Australia.

Meanwhile, Malaysia, another point of transit for asylum seekers and home to many people smugglers, is expected to receive funding to improve its immigration screening.

There is also expected to be more funding for existing resettlement programs for those unauthorised arrivals found to be genuine refugees.