Legislation providing tougher penalties for those involved in the illicit tobacco trade has been passed by the House of Representatives in the hope of combatting an illegal market the Australian Taxation Office has linked to organised crime groups, the newspaper reported.
The proposed penalties include up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to AUD 2.25 million (EUR 1.42 million) for manufacturers of illegal product.
Indi MP Cathy McGowan, who had supported the tougher legislation, said the trade had become a problem in the north-eastern parts of the state of Victoria.
“The growing and sale of illicit tobacco or ‘chop chop’ has been a serious issue in parts of North East Victoria in recent years … There’s still some tobacco grown around here,” she said.
“I’m hoping the message will go to people who are growing tobacco and selling it illegally – that’s not on, it’s not to happen and particularly here in my electorate, we’ll be making sure that law is enforced,” McGowan was quoted as saying.