Wednesday, 8 August 2007
Statements by Members
Paterson Electorate: Crime
I rise today on behalf of my constituents to raise an issue of serious concern in my electorate. That issue is the increasing incidence of crime in our community. Crime, whether it is a break and enter, motor vehicle theft, vandalism, violence or hoodlums creating a disturbance, affects everyone, not just the victims. People demand and deserve the right to feel safe in our streets and in their homes. There can be no doubt that nothing reduces the incidence of crime, particularly petty crime, more than an increased police presence and a rapid response to an incident.
In my communities, the lack of support and assistance from the New South Wales Labor government in providing adequate police resources is a cause of concern. Last week, hundreds of concerned and angry residents turned out to public crime forums organised by the community in the Forster-Tuncurry and Tilligerry Peninsula areas. I attended, along with the federal Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator David Johnston. Every one of those residents was concerned and stressed about the need for greater police presence in the area to help reduce crime. In the Tilligerry, a person complained of having reported his motorbike stolen and claimed that police had not turned up to investigate for some three days. In the Tilligerry Peninsula and Forster-Tuncurry areas, locals have been desperately calling for an increase in police numbers and 24-hour-manned stations for almost a decade.
Criminals have learnt of the times when police stations are not manned and they are using that to their advantage. Police resources are stretched to breaking point. In response, the New South Wales Labor government has promised 700 more police over the next four years, yet there are more than 500 police leaving the police force each year. In four years time there will be around 1,300 fewer police than there are today. Identifying the problem is easy; finding solutions is a little harder.
Whilst it is the New South Wales Labor government’s responsibility to fund and provide the police force, the federal government has stepped in to offer support to the maximum of their constitutional powers. Through the federally funded National Crime Prevention Program, we are offering to pay for crime prevention programs, but they can only do so much. I am pleased to announce that, through the Port Stephens Council, a crime prevention task force will be established in the Tilligerry Peninsula to help address escalating crime in that area. The federal government will commit up to $150,000, which will help fund a full-time crime strategist for two years.
In discussions with the Mayor of Great Lakes, John Chadban, a $150,000 funding package has been offered to help their crime prevention task force develop and implement strategies that will help. On top of this, the councils were advised they could also apply for up to $500,000 for crime prevention solutions. For example, this year I fought for and secured $95,000 for funding for closed circuit television cameras for Nelson Bay CBD to help reduce crime in that area. I make the point: there is no point in having these cameras if we do not have the police numbers to monitor and use them. Nothing will reduce crime more than an increased police presence. (Time expired)