Legislative Council: Wednesday, June 28, 2023


Livestock Theft

The Hon. L.A. HENDERSON (15:17): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Attorney-General regarding stock theft.

Leave granted.

The Hon. L.A. HENDERSON: An article in the Stock Journal by Livestock SA CEO Travis Tobin highlighted the growing concern over stock and general farm theft in South Australia. He notes the industry has seen spikes in crime during holiday seasons, with criminals targeting isolated and vulnerable locations. The article acknowledges the work that the Liberal government did in introducing harsher penalties for protesters, increasing the maximum fine to $10,000 or possible time in jail, and suggests that it is time to review the efficiency of farm theft deterrents and adjust them accordingly. My questions to the minister are:

1. Does he agree with the calls of Livestock SA?

2. Will he consider an amendment bill for livestock theft and general farm theft provisions specifically within the Criminal Law Consolidation Act?

3. Will he review the penalties associated with these crimes?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:19): I thank the honourable member for her question. I don't think I have had a question in this chamber when I sit next to my colleague the Minister for Primary Industries that refers to a quote from the Stock Journal, but I am very pleased that I have now. It is a welcome change. I do like talking in this place, so I thank the honourable member very much for her question.

The criminal law provides sanctions for the criminal offence of theft. It has under common law and under statute in pretty much every jurisdiction where there is a legal system. I'm happy if anyone wants to raise with me specific concerns they have, where they think there is a significant need for deterrence or further sanctions for specific criminal offences. I don't recall, but it's not something I believe has been raised with me as Attorney-General that there is a need for a very specific deterrence or sanction, but if someone wishes to raise that I am happy to look at anything that has been made and the evidence that is put forward that supports the necessity to look at specific areas of the criminal law.

As I have said, there are a number of functions—as has been discussed in this place before—of the criminal law, partly to create an offence that has jail time or a fine for committing that offence, but also a very important part of the criminal law that we discuss regularly in here in amendment bills is to act as a deterrent for people considering engaging in the behaviour, to understand what will be the consequences of engaging in that behaviour. If there are specific examples and evidence of why that is needed, I am more than happy to engage.