MSIC changes to crackdown on crime

In a bid to tackle organised crime on the waterfront, the Australian government will further tighten the rules for Maritime Security Identification Cards (MSIC).

The Minister for Home Affairs, Justice and Defence Materiel, Jason Clare, recently announced the changes.

“Organised crime is an insidious presence in Australia. It costs our economy over $15 billion a year. Serious organised crime groups target law enforcement, the private cargo industry and the waterfront,” Clare said. “This is a major crackdown on organised crime and a major overhaul of security of the waterfront and the entire supply chain.”

Under the changes, the Australian government will:
• Introduce legislation to provide powers to revoke or refuse an MSIC or ASIC (Aviation Security Identification Card) to a person if it is determined on the basis of compelling criminal intelligence that they are not fit and proper to hold a card. This will include an appeal mechanism;
• Expand the list of offences for which an MSIC or ASIC can be refused to include offences that relate to serious and organised crime;
• Implement a more stringent system for establishing applicant’s identity in the ASIC and MSIC schemes. In the short term, this will include tightening the types of documents required to establish identity and the introduction of the Government’s Document Verification Service. In the longer term, this may include the use of biometrics in establishing identity.

The government will also tighten access to the Integrated Cargo System and will:
• Introduce legislation to make it an offence to provide information from the Integrated Cargo System to a criminal organisation;
• Limit access to cargo information to those in the private sector who have reported a direct and legitimate interest in the movement and clearance of specific consignments. Those with a subsidiary interest in the cargo, such as logistics operators, will have a restricted view of consignment information;
• Introduce on-screen ‘reason for access’ declarations and on-screen warnings informing private sector users of the system about the penalties for the misuse of information;
• Impose new licence conditions on customs depots, warehouses and brokers limiting their use of Integrated Cargo System information to legitimate purposes. These conditions may include requirements to report any misuse of the Integrated Cargo System and the revocation of licences based on compelling criminal intelligence.

The government last tightened the MSIC rules in 2010, when it more than doubled the number of criminal offences that prevent individuals from holding a card unless they appeal.

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