May 28, 2014  |  Adjournment

Geelong region police resources

The matter I raise is for the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and the action I seek is that the minister urgently intervene to stop any downgrading of police services in the Bellarine electorate. Last year community concerns were raised in this house as a result of the failure of the Napthine government to provide appropriate numbers of police during the summer period. This was something that had been done over the previous 10 years. Without the increased police presence last summer, the Borough of Queenscliffe was forced to employ a private security firm to ensure the safety of the community.

There have also been concerns, which I have raised in this house, about the day-to-day police presence in Bellarine, with the rostering of Bellarine police into Geelong leaving local communities without coverage for extended periods.

However, there is now a far greater concern, with the announcement just over a week ago that there is a plan to base all the police who are currently at the Drysdale, Portarlington and Queenscliff police stations at the Bellarine station in Ocean Grove. This will mean that all police in the area will be stationed in Ocean Grove and will form part of the broader Geelong roster system. This will enable a formal process of rostering staff into Geelong. I say ‘formal’ in this regard because this is a process that has been implemented informally over the last few months. The reality is that the outcome of the plan that is proposed will mean the virtual closure of the Drysdale, Portarlington and Queenscliff stations. As I mentioned this morning in grievances, this is a plan which the Kennett government attempted to implement in 1999 but which was solidly rejected by the communities of Bellarine.

I know that if the Minister for Police and Emergency Services were to come into the chamber tonight, he would say, ‘We are not closing the stations’.

Let us be clear that these stations are only planned to be open for a few hours on a couple of days a week, and even then that will only involve junior police staff dealing with over-the-counter inquiries. What we will see as a result of this decision is a significant winding back of front-line police in the communities of Bellarine — particularly Queenscliff, Portarlington and Drysdale. This is a change that the minister is apparently backing in line with the Chief Commissioner of Police’s blue paper, but it is a change that flies in the face of the widely held community view that the changes will undermine the safety and security of these towns. The people in these towns believe strongly in community policing as a method of preventing crime and early intervention.

Again I ask that the minister intervene urgently to stop the planned downgrading of police services in Bellarine.