MP calls to increase ski police presence
BILL Tilley (MLA, Benambra) has called on Police Minister Lisa Neville to undertake a “comprehensive review” of police numbers at our ski resorts.
The parliamentarian raised his concerns in the Victorian Parliament last week after police from Wangaratta were called to a domestic violence incident at Falls Creek last month.
But the attending officers were stood down before they could reach the resort as medical staff helped resolve the issue.
North East Media understands police from Mt Beauty and Bright were unavailable because they were responding to a separate incident at Mt Hotham.
“Last year I called on the minister to give assurances that police would provide a 24/7 presence in the ski resorts,” Mr Tilley said.
“Now this was followed by a backflip earlier in 2016 that thankfully prevented these resorts, and their emergency services, from being left without police throughout the night.
“Fast- forward 12 months and through stealth we find that this has become a reality.”
Victoria Police has assured the alpine communities of a 24-hour police response but officers on the mountain are rostered on eight-hour shifts and are not on-call outside those times.
Mr Tilley said two successful rescues have been carried out at Falls Creek this season, and it was fortunate no serious inci- dents resulted after 100 centimetres of snow fell on August 5-6 in the biggest storms this decade.
He wants Victoria’s police policy looked at before a major tragedy occurs.
“In perfect conditions, and those that are familiar with the region know, it is about a two-hour drive away (from Wangaratta) - at winter, at night and with icy mountain roads it is much longer,” he said.
“I cannot imagine another town in Victoria with 5000 beds and 42 licensed premises that covers a village about 2.5 hectares that would tolerate the situation where the nearest police are more than two hours away, or when the road is cut, completely isolated from police.
“I do not want the situation where a tragedy is the catalyst to reviewing this out-of-touch policy.”
Police Minister Lisa Neville told Parliament she was under the impression any police coverage concerns had been resolved ahead of the season.
“I know that the chief commissioner has been up there again in some parts looking at the alpine policing model just over this winter period,” she said.
“I have inquired about the Falls Creek matter and have been assured by the chief commissioner’s office that there in fact was greater coverage.
“It was the same model as 2016 but with greater coverage.”
Ms Neville said she hoped to organise a briefing with the chief commissioner’s office and Mr Tilley to look at the current model.