THE Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has welcomed the Federal Government’s unveiling of a new Tobacco Taskforce to deal with the increasing threat of organised tobacco crime in Australia.
As part of Tuesday’s Federal Budget, the Federal Government announced the Australian Border Force (ABF) and Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will work together to dismantle illicit tobacco supply chains.
The Government says the increased ability to gather intelligence and disrupt criminal gangs involved in illicit tobacco will be able to raise $3.6 billion in additional revenue over the next four years.
Executive director of the ARA, Russell Zimmerman, said the new Illicit Tobacco Taskforce was significant for retailers across the country. The announcement follows continued advocacy by the ARA to highlight the effects of the Black Economy and illicit trade for retailers.
“It is encouraging to see the Federal Government take a step in the right direction when it comes to fighting organised tobacco crime in this country,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“For some time, we have been calling on a coordinated national strategy to ensure all arms of Government work together to investigate and dismantle the sophisticated criminal syndicates that import, grow and sell illicit tobacco.”
The ARA are concerned the 1.2 million retail workers in Australia are left most vulnerable to crime and abuse as they work on the frontline on a daily basis.
“Illicit tobacco is a serious problem for retailers, as we are seeing a significant increase in forced break-ins from criminals who want to get their hands on tobacco products and sell them on the Black Market,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“Young people are also in danger as gangs are importing illicit tobacco from overseas and selling them on the streets to anyone who wants them.”
The ARA recently teamed up with the Australian Lottery and Newsagents’ Association (ALNA), Master Grocers Australia (MGA Independent Retailers) and the Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) to support workers in the retail industry and reduce the effects of illicit tobacco on the community.
Mr Zimmerman said the crackdown on illicit tobacco is particularly welcoming following the release of last week’s KPMG report that found illicit tobacco now represented 15 percent of the total tobacco market in Australia, a significant increase from the previous year.
About the Australian Retailers Association:
Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association, representing the country’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As Australia’s leading retail peak industry body, the ARA is a strong pro-active advocate for Australian retail and works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.