Call for frontline cops

Monaro Labor candidate Bryce Wilson (second left) at the Queanbeyan Police Station with shadow police minister Guy Zangari (right) and Eden-Monaro MP Dr Mike Kelly (second from right).
Monaro Labor candidate Bryce Wilson (second left) at the Queanbeyan Police Station with shadow police minister Guy Zangari (right) and Eden-Monaro MP Dr Mike Kelly (second from right).

Queanbeyan Police Station is suffering from a chronic shortage of frontline officers to help tackle the region’s ice epidemic.

So says shadow police minister Guy Zangari, who visited the station last Thursday to discuss resourcing of the Monaro Police District.

But Member for Monaro John Barilaro has hit back at the Labor Party criticism, saying the NSW Police Commissioner was still working on a staffing report.

Mr Zangari reiterated the NSW Police Association’s calls for more police officers in light of rising crime rates in the Monaro policing operations area.

"Community safety should come before any new stadium," Mr Zangari said, alluding to the Berejiklian Government's plans for Sydney sporting infrastructure.

“John Barilaro and his Sydney Liberal-National government have the wrong priorities. [They] are neglecting our frontline officers and putting community safety at risk.

"There is no greater example of this than Mr Barilaro agreeing to waste $2.2 billion on demolishing and re-building two stadiums in Sydney while spending on the NSW Police Force has plummeted to a record low...

"...It's the boots on the ground that keeps the community safe. What we have here is a lack of investment in police in the Monaro as the thin blue line protecting our communities is expected to do more with less." 

Mr Barilaro said the NSW Government was working with NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller "to determine how many more officers are needed, and where they need to be based".

"Our men and women in blue work, day in, day out, in the best interest of our community," Mr Barilaro said.

"It is important that they are supported with the resources that they need."

One hundred new police officers had already been announced in the 2018/19 State Budget, Mr Barilaro said.

Just recently, the Monaro Local Area Command had also welcomed four new officers as part of the Monaro Regional Enforcement Squad (RES), he added.

The Monaro RES will be based at Queanbeyan to play a vital role in the reduction of mid-level crime, act on more complex investigations, and provide rapid support.

"As the leader of the National Party, the Minister for Regional NSW and the Member for Monaro, I want to see more police in regional NSW," Mr Barilaro said.

"Once the Commissioner finalises his report and makes his official recommendations to the NSW Government, we will respond accordingly."

Mr Zangari was accompanied at the November 8 announcement by Labor counterparts Bryce Wilson (candidate for Monaro) and Eden-Monaro MP Dr Mike Kelly.

"Our police do a great job in difficult circumstances, and after years of inaction our local police have rightfully had enough," Mr Wilson said.

"It is deeply disappointing that after nearly eight years in office we have a local member ... who wants to prioritise Sydney stadium rebuilds ahead of our local police and community safety.

"The first step to addressing community safety concerns is to restore frontline services by getting more police back patrolling our local streets and suburbs. 

"Our local community and local police simply deserve better from the Government."

Dr Kelly said he was getting feedback from door-knocking and forums "telling me that we have serious community issues that require good community policing to address".

"I’m calling on the NSW Government to back our local police by giving them the resources they need so they can do the work," Dr Kelly said.

But Mr Barilaro was resolute that this was already the case.

"During the 2015 election I committed to the upgrade of the Queanbeyan Police Station," he said.

"This was a commitment not matched by any other candidate, with NSW Labor opposing this as an unnecessary development. 

"Bryce Wilson was the architect of Labor’s 2015 Monaro campaign, during which NSW Labor vocally opposed the upgrade of the Queanbeyan police station.

"It is shameful that Bryce Wilson is now trying to parade as the police station’s champion.

"It is evident that NSW Labor is more interested in playing politics than delivering outcomes for the community. 

"What is absolutely clear is that the NSW Government will deliver a brand-new, purpose-built police station on the current site.

"I will ensure that we deliver the best facility possible to allow our local area command to get on with the job.

"This is a very exciting project which I am dedicated to delivering."

The Monaro Police District covers more than 22,000 square kilometres and is experiencing a rapid regional population growth.