Nationals Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland has labelled the Andrews Government’s plans to strip country towns of their single station police officer as “outrageous”.
The Andrews Government is seeking to channel officers from all 98 one-person police stations in small Victoria towns into larger regional hubs and cities.
Ms Cleeland raised the issue in Parliament this week, saying the change put the safety of smaller regional towns in the Euroa electorate at risk.
“This move threatens to leave rural communities without a policing presence and sends a signal that the safety and protection of our rural communities doesn’t matter,” Ms Cleeland said.
“Many of these small country towns are too far away from a major centre for police to respond to an emergency situation within a reasonable timeframe.
“Given the multi-faceted role of single officer stations, it will undoubtably result in a rise in crime and decline in community safety and wellbeing in these areas.”
Four of Victoria’s 98 single police office stations are located within the Euroa Electorate and include Murchison, Violet Town, Pyalong, and Stanhope.
Ms Cleeland said these rural single officer police stations have much in common; each have a stream of tourists passing through, are located in prime agricultural districts and poor road maintenance and safety is a serious issue for locals and unsuspecting visitors.
“In our small towns, the locally based police officer is a trusted public figure – proactively maintaining community safety, with on the ground ‘know-how’ and local knowledge,” Ms Cleeland said.
“The Nationals fiercely oppose the diminishing of police resources in our rural areas, we need more cops not less.
“Our rural communities should never be punished by Daniel Andrews’ failures in maintaining staffing in 24-hour police stations.
“I’m calling for Labor to fix its issues with police recruitment and retention and keep its hands off our single officer rural police stations.”