Federal Independent Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan has welcomed the introduction of an amendment to taxation laws to penalise those who make, possess or sell illicit ‘chop chop’ tobacco with new offences for the making, possessing or selling of illicit tobacco, also known as “chop chop” -illegal.
McGowan voted in favour of the introduction of new laws which address inconsistencies between the penalties and the manner in which they can be applied.
Those found responsible for making, possessing or selling illicit tobacco will face up to 10 years in jail and fines of up to $2.25 million in a crackdown on the illicit tobacco trade throughout North East 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.
“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.
“Investigations undertaken by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) have identified links with organised crime groups in this black market,” McGowan said.
“I welcome these amendments hat resolve the ‘proof of origin’ issue. Under the new law, it will be irrelevant whether the tobacco is imported or domestically grown when applying the offence provisions.”
The north-eastern town of Myrtleford was once home to most of Australia’s tobacco growers before tobacco products were no longer manufactured in Australia.
The amendments made by the Bill:
- create a new tobacco offence regime that provides a comprehensive set of offences that can be applied to illicit tobacco that:
- has been domestically manufactured or produced; or
- for which the origin of production or manufacturing is unknown or uncertain;
- create new offences for possession of equipment for producing or manufacturing illicit tobacco;
- set penalties at a level to deter illegal activity;
- confirm that illicit tobacco for which the origin of production or manufacturing is unknown or uncertain can be seized and forfeited; and
- define tobacco to align the meaning for excise and excise equivalent customs duty purposes so that the amount of duty on dutiable products is determined in a consistent manner.