VICTORIA’S river towns face a number of confusing cross-border challenges; but the Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, said crime is one that needs to be urgently addressed.
And he said there was a proven blueprint already in place in other states and on which a successful model could be run here.
Mr Walsh said with our rising crime figures, too many offenders are using the Murray River as an escape plan.
He said there is a simple solution; based on the Cross Border Justice Scheme partnership between Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia.
“It is a legal agreement that removes state and territory borders in the outback cross-border region to improve law enforcement and justice in the area,” Mr Walsh said.
“We could do the same the length of the Murray – and go just one shire deep on each side of the river,” he said.
“If we follow the blueprint of the scheme that now covers that cross-border corner in the three western states/territories it would mean offenders cannot escape justice by simply skipping over the border.
“It would also mean police, judges, fine enforcement agencies, community corrections officers and prisons can deal with offences that may have occurred in the other state.
“And that must surely help provide a safer environment for residents in the cross-border justice region – and give communities the confidence to report crimes.”
Mr Walsh said there has already been some positive discussion with police both sides of the river; but it was time they became more formalised.
He said when raised again with senior police in Echuca this week, there was more immediate support for the concept.
“This now needs to be ‘re-prosecuted’ to see how we handle these issues because for many major towns along the Murray their crime rates are outstripping state averages – and that’s a disturbing trend,” he added.
“The Cross Border Justice Act 2009 is evidence cross-border policing issues can be resolved if state governments are convinced a genuine need exists – and in our case it does.”
Mr Walsh said proposal would only involve nine shires in Victoria out of the state’s 79 local government areas; and 10 of 129 in NSW.
In Victoria they are Mildura, Swan Hill, Gannawarra, Campaspe, Moira, Indigo, Wodonga, Towong and East Gippsland.