Blame game erupts over our police staffing levels
RICHMOND MP Justine Elliot has called on Tweed Nationals MP Geoff Provest to apologise to police, claiming he blamed officers for causing the dire staff shortage in the local area command.
The Tweed Daily News this week revealed police were at “breaking point”, voting to begin industrial action and a petition, calling for more staff to be assigned to the Tweed Byron Local Area Command.
Their action came just days before the opening of the command’s new headquarters in Wharf St.
But Mrs Elliot, herself a former police officer, said it was unfair of Mr Provest to blame the staff crisis on officers who had taken stress and sick leave.
“Geoff Provest unfairly claims the crisis is due to the number of police on long term sick leave. That is total rubbish,” Mrs Elliot said.
“The police put their lives on the line every day and go into situations where others would never go.
“This is untrue and unfair; the current crisis is due solely to Geoff Provest’s continued incompetence and failure to deliver more police. It is insulting that Geoff Provest blames the hard-working men and women who work tirelessly as police and have suffered injury while safeguarding the residents of NSW.”
But Mr Provest dismissed the comments as “cheap political point scoring”.
“I think Mrs Elliot is misguided in this, I don’t think she is looking at the reality of the facts,” Mr Provest said.
“We have got 20% of our police on long-term sick, that is one in five, it is a cultural issue. It is not a case of just throwing more numbers at the command. Justine is just cheap political point scoring. The reality is that we have an issue here and just throwing extra numbers at it doesn’t help. We need to address it. I think it needs a collaboration between the union, the police department and the government.”
Mr Provest said the high level of sickness was unique to the Tweed. “It’s not occurring in the Sydney LACS or Wollongong or Newcastle, it is a cultural thing,” he said.