Govt. commitment to retain police numbers
Reports that the soon-to-be-completed $18 million Deniliquin Police Station may be downgraded are ‘‘pure speculation’’, according to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
Speaking to the PASTORAL TIMES while in Deniliquin on Tuesday, Mrs Berejiklian said concerns the Deniliquin Local Area Command headquarters will be moved to Albury — as detailed in Tuesday’s PASTORAL TIMES — were ‘‘untrue’’.
The Premier did say however, the NSW Police Commissioner would have ‘‘absolute authority’’ on the final outcome of the NSW Police Force review. It is believed the review will look at potentially reducing the state’s 11 Area Commands to seven.
There are concerns these changes will lead to a reduced police presence in the new station currently being built in Charlotte St, Deniliquin.
Mrs Berejiklian said the NSW Government has a commitment to retain policing numbers, particularly in rural and regional areas.
‘‘I have personally entrusted the Commissioner to focus on rural and regional areas, and I have left no doubt with the Commissioner that we must continue to get boots on the ground,’’ she said.
‘‘But he does have the absolute authority to do what he feels is best for communities.
‘‘I have also asked him to make sure the flexibility is there, like providing extra resources for the Deniliquin Ute Muster.’’
Mrs Berejiklian said the government’s investment in the new Deniliquin Police Station was recognition of the town’s importance, and just one example of the government focus in this area.
‘‘We have poured millions and millions of dollars into Deniliquin, because we appreciate it is a good investment,’’ she said.
The other police commitment requested of the NSW Government is free policing for the Deniliquin Ute Muster. The Ute Muster has made several applications for Hallmark Status across its 19-year history, but fails to meet the ‘one size fits all’ set of criteria.
It’s been more than a year since the NSW Government vowed to investigate a regional variation of Hallmark Status that would make the event eligible for state government-paid policing.
Currently only partially subsidised, policing is believed to cost the Ute Muster about $90,000 for its share each year.
While admitting she did not know where the Hallmark Status investigation was up to, Mrs Berejiklian said the government would continue to support the Muster’s growth.
‘‘Obviously we get advice from police on operational requirements, and we want the Ute Muster to grow and that means investment,’’ she said.
‘‘We’ve already seen Destination New South Wales invest, and anything we can do to continue to promote the event we will do.
‘‘It is also worth noting that we are already investing in free policing for the event, through the additional resources already provided.’’
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said local knowledge and issues would be taken into account on future decisions on water management.
In Deniliquin to meet with irrigation stakeholders on Tuesday, Ms Berejiklian said calls for local decision making to be given higher priority was taken on board.
She has vowed to consider local knowledge in her decision making, and said yesterday’s stakeholder meeting was only the start of consultation.
‘‘I don’t believe in one-off meetings,’’ Ms Berejiklian said yesterday.
‘‘I feel the communities in Murray are punching above their weight when it comes to making sure we are aware of the issues.
‘‘At Council of Australian Government meetings (on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and other water management issues) we make decisions that can potentially impact the future on these communities and the agricultural industry, and we know we have to get it right.
‘‘The main issue raised (at the meeting) was to make sure every decision point we make considers the views in and around Deniliquin.
‘‘It was import that I heard, and continue to hear, what irrigators in and around Deniliquin feel.
‘‘Not everyone around the table had the same views, but it is important for us to appreciate the knowledge.’’
Involved in the meeting were irrigator groups like Southern Riverina Irrigators, West Berriquin Irrigators, Murray Valley Private Diverters, Murray Irrigation Limited, Murrumbidgee Irrigation, Murray Darling Association, Edward River Council and Murray River Council.
SRI chairman Graeme Pyle said the meeting covered ‘‘every issue’’ in the Murray Valley region.
‘‘The Premier listened. She was very sympathetic and told us we have a hardworking water minister who has taken other people’s pain, and Minister Blair said he will conduct review of the Department of Primary Industries’ management.’’
Mr Pyle said local irrigators shared their ‘‘general contempt’’ for the Murray Darling Basin Authority’s inability to offer hope and trust in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan process.
‘‘They heard our concerns, now it’s up to the Premier and water minister to do something quickly given the devastating effects of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on our region. More water away from food production would be detrimental.
‘‘The Premier said everything will be done better and ‘we are going to achieve great things’, so I hope it’s time we see that happen.’’
The former Deniliquin Police Station which is being replaced by the soon-to-becompleted $18 million facility.