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Victoria drops out of national car theft scheme

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The Victorian Government has no plans to reinstate funding to the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (NMVTRC), which is funded by governments and insurers to drive vehicle theft reform.

Victoria now joins Queensland as the only states not to fund the council, which was established in 1999 as a national initiative.

Victoria withdrew its $300,000 annual funding on the grounds “it does not consider the council’s work to have demonstrated a significant impact in motor vehicle theft rates in Victoria”.

An independent study for 2009-2014 shows the council’s contribution “delivers a benefit-cost ratio of 24.1 for the funding bodies’ respective investment”.

NMVTRC Director of Strategy and Programming Geoff Hughes told insuranceNEWS.com.au the council’s initiatives are “strongly supported” by senior Victorian police.

“To ignore the advice of the incumbent and two [previous] police commissioners is extraordinary,” he said.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), which matches state funding dollar for dollar, has also spoken out in support of the NMVTRC.

“There is clear evidence that [its] work has made a significant difference in lowering rates of motor theft, GM Communications Campbell Fuller told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“ICA believes the small financial contribution required for participation in this important initiative is easily outweighed by the financial and social benefits that accrue from the reduction in crime it facilitates.”

The Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce has described the State Government’s decision to stop funding the council as “very inappropriate”, with Executive Director Geoff Gwilym telling insuranceNEWS.com.au the problem of car theft requires “a meaningful national approach”.

Last year Victoria experienced an unprecedented 16% spike in vehicle theft, and a Government spokesman told insuranceNEWS.com.au the best way to crack down on car theft “is at a state level”.

The Victorian Government has pledged to spend $19.6 million on crime prevention programs targeting at-risk youths and motor vehicle theft.