Julia Gillard's crackdown on gangs - which involves just one Perth-based officer from a national task force of 70 despite WA's chequered history of bikie-related crime - has drawn criticism from State politicians and the police union.
The Prime Minister announced yesterday a joint Federal-State task force bringing together law enforcement and bureaucrats to tackle the Mr Bigs of the underworld.
The announcement came at the start of Ms Gillard's five-day campaign blitz through western Sydney, where dozens of drive-by shootings have been committed by warring gang members over the past year.
The task force will cost $64 million and be made up of 70 members drawn from the Federal and State police forces.
WA Police Union president George Tilbury described the allocation of one WA officer as a token gesture that was short-sighted and demonstrated that the Federal Government was focused only on the Eastern States.
"Organised crime and gang activity is a huge concern for the community of WA," Mr Tilbury said. "To allocate just one person to our State from a 70-person-strong task force is a slap in the face."
Police Minister Liza Harvey said Ms Gillard had not consulted the WA Government on the announcement.
"This is typical of Labor and Julia Gillard, to speak first and consult later," Mrs Harvey said.
Shadow police minister Michelle Roberts said the allocation of one task force officer to WA was inadequate and she urged the Australian Federal Police and Gillard Government to discuss the issue with WA Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan.
The task force will also involve officers from the Australian Crime Commission, Customs, the Immigration Department, Centrelink and the Australian Taxation Office. Specialist cyber investigators will work with the task force along with physical and technical surveillance teams.
Task force investigators will get AFP help to confiscate cash, cars, houses and other assets bought with the proceeds of crime.
The Government promises the new task force will directly target, investigate and arrest gang members, share intelligence about gangs in Australia and overseas and work with foreign law enforcement bodies such as the FBI.
State police will also have greater access to Federal agencies including the ATO, the Immigration Department and Centrelink to comb through records and gather information about suspects.
The Government also announced yesterday it would step up screening high-risk passengers and cargo at borders in a bid to stop contraband entering Australia.
Ms Gillard denied the task force announcement was designed to boost Labor's vote in the western Sydney battleground, where it is polling badly and faces losing seats at the Federal election.
She said gang crime was a problem all around the country.Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the Government was copying a coalition policy from the last election.
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