Po­lice sta­tion down­grade

NSW Govt. is spend­ing $18 mil­lion, then it’s . . .

Deniliquin Pastoral Times - - NEWS -

In a bizarre po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion on the eve of a by-elec­tion, the NSW Gov­ern­ment is be­lieved to have plans to down­grade the De­niliquin Po­lice Sta­tion.

It comes as work is al­most com­pleted on the new $18 mil­lion po­lice build­ing that is head­quar­ters to the re­gion’s Lo­cal Area Com­mand.

How­ever, the PAS­TORAL TIMES be­lieves plans are afoot to re­lo­cate the Com­mand head­quar­ters to Al­bury.

There are con­cerns this will lead to a re­duced po­lice pres­ence in the new ‘ Taj Ma­hal’ build­ing.

The is­sue will be raised to­day with NSW Pre­mier Gla­dys Bere­jik­lian dur­ing her first visit to De­niliquin.

She is to be ac­com­pa­nied by NSW Min­is­ter for Po­lice and Emer­gency Ser­vices Troy Grant.

Mrs Bere­jik­lian is the first Pre­mier to visit De­niliquin since Bob Carr, in the lead-up to the 2007 elec­tion.

Coin­ci­den­tally, at that time the De­niliquin dis­trict was in the no­tion­ally marginal seat of Mur­ray-Dar­ling fol­low­ing a bound­aries redis­tri­bu­tion.

A fur­ther redis­tri­bu­tion be­fore the 2015 elec­tion moved De­niliquin dis­trict into the safe seat of Mur­ray, held by Adrian Pic­coli un­til his re­cent res­ig­na­tion.

In the present by-elec­tion, there is a strong view in many quar­ters that the Shoot­ers, Fish­ers and Farm­ers’ Party can­di­date He­len Dal­ton will de­feat The Na­tion­als’ Austin Evans, de­spite the seat be­ing pre­vi­ously considered one of the safest in the state.

If the po­lice sta­tion down­grade is con­firmed this will no doubt fuel claims The Na­tion­als are not do­ing enough to pro­tect ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties like De­niliquin.

Since the start of the cam­paign the party has been un­der fire for its fail­ure to sup­port the re­gion’s tim­ber in­dus­try and not do­ing enough to pro­tect sup­plies of pro­duc­tive wa­ter for the re­gion’s farm­ers.

Other key is­sues have been health, and fail­ure of The Na­tion­als to get Hall­mark sta­tus for the Deni Ute Muster so it doesn’t have to pay an es­ti­mated $100,000 a year for po­lice pres­ence. Controversial po­lice charges, which The Na­tion­als com­mit­ted to ad­dress­ing a decade ago when in Op­po­si­tion, have cost the Muster more than $1.5 mil­lion since its in­cep­tion.

Ed­ward River Coun­cil Mayor Cr Norm Bren­nan yes­ter­day con­firmed he would be talk­ing with Mrs Bere­jik­lian to­day about the po­lice sta­tion spec­u­la­tion and other is­sues.

‘‘It is cer­tainly one is­sue I will be try­ing to get to her, al­though I be­lieve our time with the min­is­ter — about 45 min­utes as part of a larger group — will be ded­i­cated to talk­ing about wa­ter.

‘‘If I can­not speak to the Pre­mier, I will speak with Troy Grant who will be with her, or fail­ing that their ad­vi­sors.

‘‘While this spec­u­la­tion the com­mand will be re­lo­cated has not been sub­stan­ti­ated, we need to know what the sta­tus is.

‘‘There’s al­ways a lot of ‘what ifs’ when we don’t know the de­tails, so we need to be ask­ing for them.

‘‘I would sug­gest if a de­ci­sion to re­lo­cate has been made it was done well af­ter con­struc­tion of the new De­niliquin Po­lice Sta­tion started, and it would be most dis­ap­point­ing if they de­cided to make that move.’’

Mrs Bere­jik­lian will meet with farm­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives this af­ter­noon to specif­i­cally dis­cuss wa­ter pol­icy and the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Plan.

The PAS­TORAL TIMES be­lieves she will also do a ‘street walk’, talk­ing to lo­cals about their con­cerns.

The Na­tion­als’ can­di­date Austin Evans said he was unaware of plans to re­lo­cate the po­lice Lo­cal Area Com­mand head­quar­ters.

He has la­belled Shoot­ers Party claims about polic­ing in De­niliquin as a ‘‘cyn­i­cal scare cam­paign’’, and says that the up­com­ing changes to po­lice struc­tures would be a good thing for our towns.

‘‘We know the cur­rent Lo­cal Area Com­mand model isn’t work­ing as well as it should be. The po­lice know that, the com­mu­nity knows that. The Shoot­ers are the only ones that seem to be out of touch.

‘‘While the po­lice haven’t fi­nalised the ex­act de­tails of the changes I’m con­fi­dent enough to guar­an­tee three things: that De­niliquin won’t lose any po­lice; that we’ll have more cops on the front line where they’re needed; and that there’ll be more lo­cal con­trol over lo­cal polic­ing.

‘‘Any­one who wants to paint this as a ques­tion of shuf­fling around Lo­cal Area Com­mands ei­ther doesn’t un­der­stand the is­sue or they’re shame­lessly try­ing to mis­lead lo­cal peo­ple.’’

Mr Evans said with the fund­ing com­mit­ment the Coali­tion has pro­vided to build the De­niliquin Po­lice Sta­tion, it would not make sense to move the com­mand cen­tre from the town.

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