Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Brett Mason, will today participate in a high level panel discussion on combating transnational crime in the Pacific. 

The event, hosted by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), will focus on how Australia can work in partnership with its Pacific neighbours to tackle challenges such as illegal fishing, wildlife trafficking, money laundering, drug trafficking and corruption.

The panel will also include Australian Crime Commission CEO Chris Dawson APM, Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan APM and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Jeremy Douglas.

Senator Mason said the event would highlight the scale of criminal activities in the Pacific, the importance to Australia from a foreign policy perspective of combating transnational crime in the region and the mechanisms that Australia might explore in partnership with Pacific Island nations and the international community to address the threats posed by criminal elements.

“The Government is keen to play an active role in working with our Pacific neighbours to combat transnational crime in the years ahead as an important part of the economic diplomacy focus of Australia’s foreign policy,” Senator Mason said.

“Effective anti-crime strategies will help to promote long-term sustainable development, the rule of law, good governance and political stability and security in our region.  These outcomes are not only in the interests of Pacific Island nations but are also in Australia’s own national interests.”

Senator Mason also noted the importance of the ASPI-DFAT panel discussion in considering collaborative regional anti-crime strategies in the Pacific.

“The discussion we are having today is a crucial step in encouraging debate and formulating effective policy approaches to deal with transnational crime in our immediate region.  These policy approaches will help us to achieve real change by building a more prosperous, stable, peaceful and secure Pacific region,” said Senator Mason.

The UNODC’s most recent threat assessment, produced in April 2013, estimated that selected illicit markets in the broader East Asia and the Pacific region have a combined annual income of nearly US$90 billion.

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