NSW’s scrap metal solution will become Victoria’s problem

Melbourne, 5 September – A Bill introduced in New South Wales to eliminate scrap metal dealers’ capacity to pay cash for scrap could have dire consequences for Victorians. 

Introduced into the Parliament of NSW Legislative Assembly on 24 August, the Scrap Metal Industry Bill 2016, if enacted, has the potential to eliminate some serious crime in that state. What it could also do is drive criminal activity over the border into Victoria. 

Based on similar legislation introduced in the United Kingdom, that makes it an offence for dealers to pay cash for scrap metal, this Bill has the capacity to drastically cut the theft of metals and will also help eliminate illegal scrap metal operations and the theft of cars for illegal parts sales and scrapping. 

“One of the key issues facing the scrap metal industry is a lack of capacity to trace stolen scrap metal through cash payments. If all scrap metal payments were made by electronic means it would leave a trace for investigators,” Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) Executive Director, Geoff Gwilym, said. 

NSW Deputy Premier, Troy Grant, stated in his second reading that, “It is the Government’s view that the regulatory model proposed through this Bill will help to significantly prevent property crime.” 

VACC has urged the Victorian Government to adopt a similar position. 

“The Government’s apathy and lack of action will likely mean that once the Bill is adopted in NSW, and the legislation is in place, stolen scrap and stolen cars for illegal scrapping will simply move over the border. NSW’s problem will then become our problem,” Mr Gwilym said. 

“The last thing we want to see is an increase in vehicle and metal theft due to the migration of thieves looking for easier options. An early illegal scrap metal intervention program in the UK, Operation Tornado 2012, demonstrated that if tough penalties are introduced for metal theft in one jurisdiction the problem would likely go over the border.” 

The 2014 Task Force Discover Report, designed to examine profit-motivated vehicle theft in the vehicle parts and scrap industries, raised many of the dangers of having a cash economy in the scrap industry, including the encouragement of vehicle and vehicle parts theft. The Victorian Government has not acted on the recommendations of the report and is yet to establish a working group to develop risk assessment guidelines for a pilot project. 

Meanwhile, NSW has introduced legislation that will provide positive public benefit and will slow down criminal dealings in scrap metal, stolen vehicles and parts. 

Read the NSW Bill here

Read the UK report on metal theft interventions here

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