PREMIER VISIT

Govt. com­mit­ment to re­tain po­lice num­bers

Deniliquin Pastoral Times - - FRONT PAGE - By ZOE MCMAUGH

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.

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