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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 2720 ..

Motor Vehicle Thefts

MR RUGENDYKE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Attorney-General. Minister, I notice that there has been an increase in the number of motor vehicles stolen in the ACT. Could you advise the Assembly what the AFP is doing to reduce that number, given that a police sergeant whose expertise is in the recovery of stolen motor vehicles and the capture and charging of offenders has been transferred out of that area?

Mr Moore: Dave might go back to the police force.

MR HUMPHRIES: The suggestion has been made to me, Mr Speaker, that Mr Rugendyke might like to volunteer his expertise in this area and go and look at the issue. I am sure we could not do any worse than that, Mr Speaker.

Motor vehicle theft is one of the categories of offences which were reported in the most recent victimisation survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics as having increased in the ACT, and therefore it is a matter of ongoing concern that there have been rises in that category of offence. Of course, the figures that will come out from the police in a few weeks' time are probably more accurate in that respect. I am not really sure that anyone victimised as a person having a motor vehicle stolen would not also report that to the police, so I am sure that those figures will be confirmed or at least corrected by the official figures coming out from the AFP. Nonetheless, Mr Speaker, I am confident that the trend is heading in the direction of a large increase.

I am of the view, based on the advice of the Australian Federal Police, that a significant number of motor vehicles are stolen in the ACT by people who specifically come here from outside the Territory for the purpose of taking vehicles interstate. There is a business, an industry if you like, that revolves around rebirthing vehicles that have been stolen in one place and taken to another jurisdiction and given a new lease of life. Identifying material on motor vehicles can prevent that, but this applies only to limited parts of a vehicle. Things can be erased or changed and the result is that a vehicle can be rebirthed.

My colleagues the police Ministers have been working together to establish the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council. I think a spokesperson for that body was on ABC radio yesterday or today, talking about the efforts that are being made to begin to wind back the basis on which that industry occurs. For example, there will be a register of wrecks established across the whole of Australia so that we are able to identify when a vehicle is trashed or is disposed of. We will be able to work out that that particular car has gone out of circulation, and if another vehicle turns up with the identity of that vehicle there is a pretty good chance that that second vehicle has been stolen. I think that kind of national work is necessary to really break the back of that problem of stolen motor vehicles.

Of course, Mr Speaker, as the problem comes into focus in the way that the recent figures have put it, it is incumbent on the AFP to make sure that there are appropriate resources devoted to the task of ensuring that this crime is deterred. There have been successes in recent days in apprehending people in stolen motor vehicles. Members might recall that in Sunday's Canberra Times, I think, there was a photograph of people

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