Cobram’s scourge of illegal tobacco has been put in the too hard basket by the Victorian Government, according to Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy.
Mr McCurdy believes more should be done to stop the tobacco black market operating in our town and tougher penalties should be imposed on offenders.
‘‘Police resourcing is at an all-time low in regional Victoria,’’ he said.
‘‘Illegal tobacco sales hurt our local tobacconists who are law-abiding businesses, pay their rates, employ staff and provide goods and services for Cobram and district. The way things are now is simply not fair.’’
Mr McCurdy said local government in other communities throughout the Ovens Valley had pursued illegal tobacco shops and invested tens of thousands of dollars to ensure a conviction.
‘‘The fine is a slap over the wrists and the illegal sales continue the next day,’’ he said.
‘‘In Wangaratta, more than $20000 was spent to bring a perpetrator to the courts and the sales continued.
‘‘There must be tougher penalties for those caught selling illegal tobacco. It must be a deterrent — the punishment must fit the crime or this practice will continue.’’