Kealy: More needs to be done

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY COLIN MACGIL­LIVRAY

Vic­to­rian Na­tion­als leader Peter Walsh and Mem­ber for Lowan Emma Kealy have re­newed calls for a ded­i­cated Vic­to­ria Po­lice live­stock theft and ru­ral crime unit.

Mr Walsh vis­ited Hor­sham Re­gional Live­stock Ex­change with Ms Kealy on Wed­nes­day last week in what he de­scribed as a post-fed­eral Election tour of re­gional Vic­to­ria.

He said a spike in ru­ral theft, par­tic­u­larly live­stock theft, was con­cern­ing.

Vic­to­ria Po­lice cur­rently sta­tion agri­cul­tural li­ai­son officers across re­gional Vic­to­ria to help in­ves­ti­gate farm crime, but Mr Walsh said the gov­ern­ment needed to over­haul the sys­tem.

“There used to be a ded­i­cated live­stock theft squad in Vic­to­ria Po­lice and it’s some­thing the cur­rent gov­ern­ment hasn’t got,” he said. “We be­lieve it should be there. “Ev­ery­one you talk to wants to see more done – whether it be stock theft, whether it be ma­chin­ery and tools be­ing taken out of work­shops in ru­ral ar­eas.

“Peo­ple want to make sure there is a ded­i­cated ser­vice so po­lice can ac­tu­ally track it down, be­cause if it is just an add on to cur­rent polic­ing roles, they don’t have the time.”

Ms Kealy agreed, say­ing soar­ing lamb prices – a pen of lambs at Hor­sham Re­gional Live­stock Ex­change set a Vic­to­rian record, since sur­passed, at $325 a head last month – made live­stock an at­trac­tive op­tion for thieves.

She said she had can­vassed property own­ers in her elec­torate and would present their cases to state par­lia­ment.

“We’ve heard of lots of stock theft

around the re­gion on the back of these high stock prices,” she said.

“We want to get a feel for how broad it is and take that back to par­lia­ment and advocate for the pol­icy we took to the election, which was around in­tro­duc­ing a stock theft task force to fo­cus and crack down on crime in ru­ral ar­eas.”

Ms Kealy said a po­lice task­force would help ad­dress fail­ings in the cur­rent sys­tem.

“It’s re­ally dif­fi­cult in ru­ral ar­eas; some­times the neigh­bours are a long way away and so while there are some good neigh­bour­hood watch pro­grams of look­ing out for each other’s stock, it can’t al­ways hap­pen,” she said.

“We need to make sure po­lice have got the re­sources to spend enough time out and about to in­ves­ti­gate these crimes and look into it.

“It’s crip­pling for a farmer who has just lost a trailer load of sheep when they’re mak­ing more than $300 a head for lambs at the mo­ment.

“This is some­thing that is re­ally hurt­ing them, par­tic­u­larly on the back of a cou­ple of years’ drought.

“We need to see more re­sources thrown at this from the gov­ern­ment.

“We haven’t heard any­thing from La­bor about what they’re do­ing to tackle ru­ral stock theft. It’s im­por­tant that we do tackle it; it’s just as im­por­tant as any crime in Mel­bourne.”

RE­NEWED CALL: Vic­to­rian Na­tion­als leader Peter Walsh, left, and Mem­ber for Lowan Emma Kealy braved the el­e­ments for a tour of Hor­sham Re­gional Live­stock Ex­change with man­ager Paul Christo­pher. Mr Walsh and Ms Kealy are calling for a ded­i­cated Vic­to­ria Po­lice live­stock theft and ru­ral crime unit. Pic­ture: PAUL CARRACHER

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