Justice Minister Andrew Little today introduced a supplementary order paper (SOP) on the Crimes Amendment Bill to crack down on livestock rustling.
Federated Farmers estimates the cost of theft of livestock to the farming community at over $120 million every year, and a survey indicates about a quarter of their members had stock stolen in the last five years.
“The Coalition Government has listened to farmers and rural communities. Farmers have told us about the toll the scourge livestock rustling is having on their livelihoods and quality of life.
“This Government recognises the contribution farmers and rural people make to New Zealand and our economy. Their contributions should not be undermined by the theft of their livestock.
“That’s why we’re taking action to address livestock rustling before Christmas”, says Little.
The SOP proposes two new offences to be added to the Crimes Act. The offences are:
- Theft of livestock or other animal, carrying a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.
- Unlawful entry to land used for agricultural purposes, where the offender intends to steal livestock or act unlawfully against specified things, such as buildings or machinery, on that land. That offence carries up to 10 years imprisonment.
“This particular SOP requires agreement of every MP to be considered at Committee Stage. I am grateful that every party has indicated they will support that procedural motion.
“I also want to acknowledge and thank the Primary Production Committee – and particularly National’s Ian McKelvie and Labour’s Kieran McAnulty – for their bipartisan assistance to the Government in addressing the issue of livestock rustling,” says Little.
McKelvie, MP for Rangitkei, says he is pleased with the adoption of the bill.
“Stock rustling is a crime that cuts to the heart of many rural families and the farming community.
“Theft of livestock from farms or property is estimated to cost the farming community over $120 million a year. More recently, the risk to farms of Mycoplasma bovis spreading through stock theft has added strength to the call to take action.
“This activity is not only a threat to farming businesses, but it also creates a risk to people’s safety in rural parts of New Zealand, as rustlers are often armed and equipped with tools to assist them.
“Farming families can also suffer psychological effects from stock thefts, and it can even lead to mistrust among fellow locals.
“My Members Bill had its First Reading in Parliament in February. I have been working alongside the Government through the Primary Production Select Committee to make sure this law change can be progressed in the fastest way possible.”
McKelvie wants rural New Zealanders to feel safe and to reassure victims of livestock rustling that there is an additional deterrent in place to discourage this type of crime.
“This law change sends a strong message to potential rustlers that these acts are abhorrent, and that if caught, you can expect the full treatment, he says.
“National’s position on law and order is simple. We stand on the side of victims by reducing crime, tackling the causes of re-offending and keeping New Zealanders safe.”