Walsh Finds His Inner Bo Peep In Mystery Lost Sheep
Taxpayers are footing a hefty bill because the Baillieu Government failed to properly secure livestock on land owned by a water authority in Wangaratta and Benalla, Shadow Minister for Water John Lenders said today.
Mr Lenders said documents obtained by the Opposition under Freedom of Information show Victorian taxpayers were slugged $27,000 to pay for missing sheep on North East Water’s Wangaratta and Benalla plants.
“Water Minister Peter Walsh failed to maintain the security of hundreds of sheep at the plants and taxpayers are footing the bill for the losses,” Mr Lenders said.
“The FOI documents reveal that Mr Walsh reported to Finance Minister Robert Clarke on the incidents and that the action to stop losses would be to more frequently count the sheep.
“I appreciate that Mr Walsh wants to go to Wangaratta and count the sheep — that might be a bean counter’s form of action — but I suggest that a better form of action would be for Mr Walsh to close the gate or invest in some pad locks.
“These two incidents alone cost taxpayers nearly $27,000.”
The FOI documents reveal North East Water listed actual and suspected thefts, arson, irregularities for the period ending 30 June 2011.
A count on 21 March 2011 revealed that under Mr Walsh’s stewardship, 69 sheep had disappeared from the Wangaratta Wastewater Treatment Plant and on 30 June 2011, a further 137 sheep disappeared from Benalla.
“These things happen, but for many members of the farming community, who are not keen on sheep rustling, the issue has become what has happened to these sheep,” Mr Lenders said.
“Two lots of sheep disappeared. It is not just an idle matter regarding farmers being anxious about sheep being nicked; we would rather not have thousands of dollars added to our water bills as a write-off for Mr Walsh’s lost sheep.
“We are also yet to see the final cost of the consultants and whether this cost will also be passed onto water ratepayers for their farm management practice review and ‘comment on the high losses’.”