‘No guarantees’ on station staff
POLICE Minister Michael Ferguson has revealed there are no guarantees New Norfolk’s new $5 million police station will be staffed around the clock.
The lack of commitment came to light in House of Assembly Budget estimates questioning.
Responding to a line of questioning from Greens MP Rosalie Woodruff, Mr Ferguson said there had been no suggestion the station would be staffed around the clock.
“The commitment that the Government has made in relation to New Norfolk … is that there would be access to police services at all times,” he said.
New Norfolk is currently serviced by the 24-hour police station at Bridgewater.
“It is considered by our senior police … that it is better for police to be in the community patrolling and being available and able to respond to call-ins, than sitting behind a desk.”
The Government committed to provide New Norfolk with a new $5 million police station and an all-hours police presence in the lead-up to the March 3 state election.
“A re-elected majority Hodgman Liberal Government will rectify this by investing $5 million on the new station, ensuring it has the capacity, space and security requirements to respond to the community’s needs around-the-clock, seven days a week,” former police minister Rene Hidding said in January.
The promise preceded Labor’s $4 million commitment to refurbish the current New Norfolk station and provide around- the- clock policing.
Both commitments were made in response to public pressure after a spike in crime.
Mr Ferguson said the Government provided funding for a capability review to help decide the “best allocation” of the state’s extra 125 police force staff funded in the 2018-19 Budget.
“The capability review is … so the commissioner can have access to all of the information required to make decisions about where staffing resources are going to be placed to maximise public access and public safety.”
Mr Ferguson said all of the $5 million allocated for the new police station at New Norfolk was for infrastructure.
“I think the people of New Norfolk would have had an expectation that a $5 million new police station would come with a person behind the counter at least Monday to Friday,” Dr Woodruff said.
“I understand … they are going to have to wait until the results of a capability review to get a definite assurance that will be the case.”
Dr Woodruff said the Government’s priorities were wrong.
“The New Norfolk community wants a service based in the station around-theclock,” she said.
“And they want to be able to walk into the station and talk to a person without making a series of phone calls.
“The community believed they were promised 24 hour local access before the election. That should be the priority.”
Mr Ferguson said there was no suggestion the 10 staff currently stationed in New Norfolk would not stay in the town.
Comment was sought from Police Commissioner Darren Hine.