The Coalition has delivered on another of its pre-election promises to target organised crime gangs who deal in illegal firearms by investing $6.2 million in Western Australia’s National Anti-Gang Squad (NAGS). Justice Minister Michael Keenan joined Western Australia Police Minister Liza Harvey to announce the investment on June 29, which will extend the NAGS operations for a further two years while increasing its presence in regional Australia.
The Coalition pledged $39 million to fund the squad if re-elected, describing the illegal trafficking of firearms as “a deadly crime” and pointing to 555 illegal firearms “taken off our streets” since the NAGS was introduced in 2013.
On announcing the investment for the WA strike team, Minster Keenan said organised criminal gangs represent an ongoing threat. “We’re going hard to shut down their evil trades, using this additional investment, particularly in regional areas, to help disrupt attempts by organised criminal syndicates to peddle misery and exert significant influence over Australia’s black market,” he said.
In WA, 24 firearms have been seized by the NAGS since 2013 and $2.3 million in assets have been restrained, including a clubhouse and six Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Minister Harvey said there was anecdotal evidence to link the use of illicit drugs to anti-social behaviour and violent crimes, including assault and aggravated theft.
The NAGS comprises representatives from the AFP, WA Police and the Australian Tax Office, which work closely with the Australian Border Force, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and the Department of Human Services. This funding comes just one day after Minister Keenan announced $25.4 million over three years for the AFP to also target illegal firearms.
The SSAA Legislative Action (SSAA-LA) department welcomes the additional funding for law enforcement to target illegal firearms and will continue to remind legislators that policing law-abiding firearm owners is a waste of precious resources and does not deliver any public safety benefits.