The Beat
10 Apr 2015|
Dallas Buyers Club

This week in The Beat, a national ‘ice’ task force, a visit to wildlife crime’s chamber of horrors,’ AFL and illicit drug use, and a potentially game-changing verdict for film and television piracy.

National ‘ice’ task force

The Australian Crime Commission recently revealed crystal methamphetamine—also known as ‘ice’—to be the biggest illicit drug problem they face. This week Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced a national task force to deal with this growing issue, which will look at local, state and federal government efforts to counter use of the drug and focus on how to improve health facilities, education about ice and law enforcement strategies to prevent its use.

The task force will be coordinated by retiring Victorian police commissioner Ken Lay and, importantly, report to both Justice Minister Michael Keenan and Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash. Their first step will be to develop a national strategy and a report to take to the next Council of Australian Governments.

Wildlife crime’s ‘chamber of horrors’

The illicit wildlife trade remains a concerning aspect of transnational crime, and is often overlooked by the Australian press. This Lateline report reveals that wildlife crime can generate up to $40 billion a year. It also refers to cases where wildlife trafficking has funded terrorist organisations because of the relatively low risk—especially compared to drug or arms trafficking.

The report features a visit to the United States National Property Repository, dubbed a ‘chamber of horrors’ filled with poorly-done taxidermy, endangered and young animal specimens, and body parts of animals made into everyday items, such as wastepaper bins. A warning:some might find the images and footage in this report shocking (especially those with good taste).

AFL and drugs

Last week we discussed the increasing prevalence of organised crime in European football leagues, and it appears Australian sport isn’t immune either. Former Justice Minister Jason Clare has expressed regret over the former government’s role in the release of the Crime Commission’s 2013 Organised Crime Drugs in Sport report, while also condemning the use of illicit substances in sport.

Those claims have been supported by senior figures within the AFL, who claim that the battle against illicit drugs is not being won and that the three-strike policy on illegal drugs is not conducive to countering its use. This comes after two Collingwood players tested positively for performance-enhancing substances, with speculation that this could have come from illicit drug use.

Organised crime and you

One of the biggest misconceptions about organised crime is that it is limited to the dodgier areas of our cities. Therefore, it’s easy for us to distance ourselves from it.

However, David and Connery and I argue in the Herald Sun that the breadth and scale of serious and organised crime potentially affects each of us through our daily activities. This has been exacerbated by the growing amount of cybercrime, which increases the numbers of people affected due to our increasing dependence on cyber capabilities. If we look at organised crime through the lens of ‘non-compliance,’ it often becomes much more obvious in our day-to-day interactions.

Film piracy verdict

Speaking of ‘everyday’ organised crime,  Australians are world-class illegal downloaders; one source lists Australia being the biggest illegal downloader of HBO’s Game of Thrones with 11.6% of downloads, and the city of Melbourne as the top location for illegal downloads of the series. Even former US Ambassador Jeffery Bleich has pleaded with the Australian public to stop pirating the show. A lack of service availability and competitively-priced models has been blamed for this trend.

However, a potentially game-changing verdict was handed down this week. The Federal Court ordered internet providers such as iiNet to release the identities of over 4,700 customers whose accounts were allegedly used to download the Oscar-winning film Dallas Buyers Club illegally.

Piracy is sometimes perceived amongst the community as a victimless crime and that downloading a show illegally has no tangible negative consequences. Think again. There have been a number of documented cases where film piracy has financed terrorist activities.