Sex, drugs and rock and roll: Australia's other boom
By James Grubel
CANBERRA (Reuters) - Forget Australia's mining boom. The nation's strong economy, high currency and wages have made it a magnet for sex, drugs and rock and roll.
Foreign sex workers, drug smugglers and global rock acts are all targeting Australia to cash in on an economy growing at 3.1 percent when other developed nations are struggling to expand at all.
The alternative boom has emerged as Australian average full-time wages hit $72,500 a year, and with the Australian dollar trading stubbornly above parity with the U.S. dollar for the past two years.
That has made Australia even more profitable for fly-in and fly-out rock acts and prostitutes, and especially for drug traffickers who are taking bigger risks with the hope of windfall profits.
"Offshore organized crime syndicates perceive Australia to have a robust economy and to have been less affected by the global financial crisis than other jurisdictions," said Paul Jevtovic, the Australian Crime Commission's executive director of intervention and prevention.
Australian police made 69,500 illicit drug busts in the year to June 30, 2012, the highest in a decade, and have made record arrests in the first six months of this financial year.
In recent months, police have intercepted drugs hidden in a 20-tonne steamroller and heavy machinery, in a large wooden altar, and they have broken up a drug ring involving smugglers in Australia, Japan and Vietnam. Continued...