My adjournment matter is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and it is in relation to the government’s promise to deliver extra police officers to the Geelong and Surf Coast region. I have raised this matter in a number of forums over recent months, but I feel compelled to raise it again tonight.
A month before the last state election the Premier was quoted in the Geelong Advertiser as saying:
“There’s still very much a law and order issue in Geelong and there’s a shortage of police …
We need more of them in the street.”
At a community forum in Geelong in 2007 he also said, and it was recently repeated in the Geelong Advertiser:
“You would have to have your head in the sand not to know that Geelong needed more police …
We identified a shortfall of over 70. We have committed to provide that.”
However, in the last 14 months Geelong has only received 14 of the extra 1000 police officers to be placed around Victoria.
Furthermore, in recent weeks the Baillieu government announced that Geelong would receive just four new police officers out of a statewide allocation of 275. This is in stark comparison to other areas, such as Frankston, which will receive an additional 29 officers even though, according to data obtained from the Victoria Police ‘My place’ website, Frankston recorded more than 3000 fewer offences than Geelong during the period October 2010-September 2011. According to Police Association Victoria assistant secretary, Inspector Bruce McKenzie, the shortage of police is placing an incredible strain on the current officers in Geelong. He was recently quoted in the Geelong Advertiser as saying:
“We are, quite frankly, worried about the health and wellbeing of our members in Geelong and we wonder how much longer they can actually do the job.”
Up to five police stations in the Geelong region, including those at Ocean Grove, Drysdale, Portarlington, Queenscliff and Lara, constantly face the threat of temporary closures due to critical staff shortages in the area. However, when the issue of staff shortages has been raised, the best we can get from the member for South Barwon in the Assembly, Andrew Katos, is that he will look into the matter.
This government also promised a new police station in Waurn Ponds, and the community is concerned about how that station, if it is built, will be staffed. Will police officers be ripped out of other local stations? The people of Geelong, along with the police officers who tirelessly serve the Geelong community, have a right to feel safe on the streets and in their homes. Consequently I ask the minister to come clean now with the people of Geelong and the Surf Coast and inform our communities of when the new police officers will be delivered to our region.