Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

Tragedy in the King Valley

with 4 comments

It is a beautiful valley … but it also a sad valley. Although it is one of the most sparsely populated areas in Victoria, tragedies such as this seem to occur on an almost annual basis. It is completely disproportional to the size of the population.

One dead, two wounded in stabbing attack

ONE man is dead and two others are in a critical condition after a triple stabbing in northern Victoria some 45km from Wangaratta, about 7pm (AEDT) today following reports of an assault.

“A man in his 30s was found to be deceased with stab wounds to his upper body,” a Rural Ambulance Service spokesman said.

“Two other men in their 30s have been airlifted to Melbourne’s Alfred hospital, where they are in a serious, critical condition.”

The two injured men also suffered stab wounds to their upper body, he said.

Police have launched a homicide investigation and are searching for a group of people who fled the scene in a white Toyota Hiace van or minibus.

The dead man’s identity is yet to be confirmed.

Police are searching for a group of workers who fled following a fatal multiple stabbing at a winery in Victoria’s north-east.

Whilst this awful news is still breaking and there is a lack of information, the current press articles reporting that, “The police … are searching for a group of people who fled the scene in a white Toyota Hiace van or minibus” and “Police are searching for a group of workers”, would indicate that the offenders are Asian contract workers.

Update 10:00am Sunday

Here’s the story from one of the locals. Around 200 people were at the Cheshunt Hall celebrating Australia day when police and ambulances rushed by the hall heading up the Upper king Valley road. The incident apparently occurred at the Politini winery where Asian contract workers had been renting a couple of houses.

It is reported that the contract workers have been working the King Valley vineyards for over two years.

A fight broke out amongst the Asian workers resulting in one of them being stabbed to death and two more being airlifted to the Alfred Hospital with serious stab wounds. Up to eight witnesses have shot through in their van and one woman headed off into the bush.

One dead in stabbing
January 27, 2008 – 10:30AMTen men have turned themselves in at a Victorian country police station while homicide detectives hunt another man following a triple stabbing in the state’s north.

Farm workers questioned over fatal winery stabbing
ABC Online 10:45am Sunday 27 Jan

A man in his 20s was killed and two other men were seriously injured when a fight broke out between groups of farm workers at Politini Winery at Cheshunt, in the state’s north-east, last night.

Suspect in fatal winery fight found in bush
Posted 5:26pm on ABC Online
A man suspected of stabbing three people at a vineyard in Victoria’s north-east is being treated in Wangaratta hospital, after being found in the bush.


This is the latest in a series of unfortunate incidents involving Asian contract workers in the King Valley. A couple of years ago, one of their supervisors took off with the crew’s wages ($20,000) and a mini van. There have also been a number of illegal immigrants amongst them. With reports that many are also being paid well below the going rate for Aussies, it makes you wonder if foreign workers in the vineyards are an asset or a liability.

Written by Greg Naylor

27 January 2008 at 8:02 am

Posted in social comment

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4 Responses

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  1. “…. it makes you wonder if foreign workers in the vineyards are an asset or a liability”

    They’re an asset because without them the vineyards wouldn’t have enough workers. I’m not sure if murder & theft is more prevalent among itinerant foreign workers than it is among itinerant ‘Aussie’ workers. There have been two murders in the Ovens Valley area among tobacco workers in recent years and in both cases foreign workers were not involved. The King Valley is not immune to Aussie workers (and even growers) falling under suspicion of illegal activities either.


    27 January 2008 at 11:02 am

  2. Yes the comment made by Mr Ray Dixon is very true, without these foreign workers we would have no labourers at all. It is all to do with governments making the unemployment benefits too easy to obtain. Over the years it has become increasingly difficult to get reliable workers, once all the older people have retired there are no young ones coming on.We are extremely grateful to these foreign workers who work long hours without complaint, take an interest in their work and mostly get on very well with each other. If there was a choice between foreign and Aussies workers we would choose the foreign workers every time. This unfortunate incident has put a bad light on foreign workers who are mostly wonderful happy conscientious people. Often they are just working to give their families back home a better life.

    Laurel Croucher

    27 January 2008 at 11:40 am

  3. Laurel, it is sad to hear you say, If there was a choice between foreign and Aussies workers we would choose the foreign workers every time.

    I have worked alongside them for over five years and agree that they are mostly wonderful happy conscientious people.

    However, it is reported that this incident was caused by an argument over the legality of working visas. It is obviously convenient to phone a foreign worker contractor to get a crew than recruit locals with all the attendant paperwork, tax deductions, and individual pay cheques. I believe that the vineyard managers should be liable for checking the credentials of the workers and ensuring they are paid adequately.

    You say, they are just working to give their families back home a better life yet they are not backward in discussing their pay rates and the unfair accommodation and transport costs imposed by the contractor.

    Last year, I befriended an Indonesian lady – a permanent resident – who had taken time off from her chef job in a Melbourne restaurant to earn some real money picking grapes on an hourly basis. If they are prepared to come here to pick grapes to make extra money, what sort of exploitation of the foreign workforce is really going on.

    Greg Naylor

    28 January 2008 at 6:20 am

  4. Hi Greg, Let me clarify my comments Asian’s verses Aussies workers. Ten years ago it was possible to get a crew of older Aussies and some young people to work they were realiable hard workers, but with passing time we all get older and women have their young families, no one would expect 70 year olds to work like they used too. There are very few young people willing to do what their parents did is just too hard, and many have realised it easy to work the system and get paid with out leaving their house.Over the years we and most farmers have had terrible trouble retaining a crew of people for a whole day, they usually start to drift off by 10 am and by days end only a few remain., often that few will not turn up the next day. Then there is the other side where some people demand their pay after a few hours, like we have nothing better to do then sit writing cheques out for $50 or less.It has been like a breath of fresh air having these overseas workers come into out area and show us what people can do,with the hours they work with out complaint for up to 7 days a week.The farmers who employ these people get them through a registered agent that pays GST. Let me assure you that very good money is payed to these agents and farmers have no control of what happens to that money once it leaves our control.So if the overseas workers are being exploited they would not work, as there are no enforcment The accomodation costs could be an issue I dont know what they pay, as it varies from place to place.

    Laurel Croucher

    29 January 2008 at 7:50 am

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