The Victorian Opposition has used a farmers’ conference in Ballarat to launch its election pledge to set up a dedicated Victoria Police Livestock and Rural Crime Squad.
State Opposition leader Matthew Guy told the Victorian Farmers’ Federation’s annual conference there had been a sharp rise in stock theft in the last 12 months.
“Instances of stock theft have risen by 40 per cent since 2017,” Mr Guy said.
“Between April 2017 and March 2018, there were 232 instances of burglary, break and enter and theft where livestock were stolen. Only 10 of these, which is 4.3 per cent, resulted in an arrest or a summons.”
Instances of stock theft have risen by 40 per cent since 2017. Only 10 of these, which is 4.3 per cent, resulted in an arrest or a summons- Matthew Guy
The allocation of the 20 new specialist roles would boost dedicated rural crime police numbers by 40 per cent. The 20 new investigation positions would merge with the existing Livestock and Farm Crime Specialist Group and the 48 Agricultural Liaison Officers (AGLOs) to create the new squad.
“Under this two dozen specialist crime investigators will be stationed in regional Victoria, to ensure this major economic crime is treated with the respect it deserves.”
He said when a crime occurred, people would have a first point of call, to report it.
Mr Guy also used the conference to promise to make the investments to drive growth and support jobs in Victoria’s agriculture industries.
If elected, the Opposition would establish the Grow Victoria: Food and Fibre Exports Program with a $40 million investment, to help local farmers and food manufacturers to get more Victorian products into the rapidly expanding Asian markets.
”We will ensure Victoria’s food and fibre export strategy addresses key drivers including market access, research and development, reducing red tape and infrastructure investment,” Mr Guy said.
Victoria is the nation’s largest exporter of agricultural goods but other states have increased their share of exports in the past three years. Victoria’s share had declined, dropping from 28 per cent of Australian exports in 2013-14 to 25pc in 2016-17.
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