Topics: Morrison Government’s strong support for Australian police; new police taskforce to crack down on organised crime.
RAY HADLEY: Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews is on the line. Minister, good morning to you.
KAREN ANDREWS: Good morning, Ray. How are you?
RAY HADLEY: Really well. Thank you for talking to me this morning. A very important story, this one. Now, when you talk about Operation Phobetor, this is not something that’s going to be formed and then disappear; it’s an ongoing commitment, is that correct?
KAREN ANDREWS: Yes, it is an ongoing commitment. So the Morrison Government is very focused on making sure that we’re doing everything we can to keep Australians safe and secure. A key part of that, has been that we will provide resources to the Australian Federal Police and now what you’re seeing is a demonstration of the Australian Federal Police working very closely with New South Wales state policing to really go after the outlaw motorcycle gangs; your bikies; your triads; your cartels. But – yes – this will be ongoing.
RAY HADLEY: So you mention New South Wales as one of the partners here along with the AFP and the Australian Crime Intelligence Commission. What role will other states and territories play, particularly Queensland, who’ve been very good in this area previously?
KAREN ANDREWS: So we’re very keen to work with all of the states because we understand –nationally – the significance of doing all we can to disrupt the activities of these serious, organised criminals. So – yes – I’m very happy to work with all of the states. New South Wales has already made that commitment; we’ve already set up the task force. There’s about 20 elite officers involved in this. So it’s really now time for everyone to get on board. But you’re right to say that Queensland – and of course other states – have also been proactive in this area as well.
RAY HADLEY: So when you say it’s time for them to get on board, would that be a suggestion that you’ve offered the same role to Queensland as you’ve offered New South Wales but they haven’t come back with an answer that they want to be involved yet?
KAREN ANDREWS: I chaired a meeting of state police Ministers a couple of weeks ago. We are all of one mind, making sure that we are doing all that we can to disrupt these serious criminals. So we already work very closely across the states. I’m very happy to formalise those arrangements but certainly this has been very positively received by all of the states and territories. Everyone is absolutely on board with this.
RAY HADLEY: So it’s not just targeting these criminals; these triads; these motorcycle gangs; various organised criminals from other international sources, but also you’ll be seizing the ill-gotten gains of organised criminals, including cars, houses, cash and jewellery. So you’ve got more proactive than you even are at the moment?
KAREN ANDREWS: Yeah, absolutely. We know that these criminals hate the police taking their assets. So we’re doing all that we can to seize those assets. I am absolutely serious about proving the adage that ‘crime doesn’t pay’, and it certainly doesn’t. Crime does not pay. These people will get caught and we will take their assets.
RAY HADLEY: Okay. All right. So it’s in force now. You’ve got these elite officers already basically starting the operation?
KAREN ANDREWS: Yes, so it’s in place. There was a formal signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the AFP Commissioner – Reece Kershaw, and the NSW Police Commissioner – Mick Fuller. So that has happened. So it’s all go, go, go.
RAY HADLEY: All right, then. I appreciate your time. Well done, thanks very much.
KAREN ANDREWS: Pleasure. Take care.