Hansard Extract – Adjournment Debate 4 February 2021

 

Mr HODGETT (Croydon) (17:32): (5517) I wish to raise a matter with the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and the action I seek is for the minister to ensure that our police stations are open to the public and resourced to be able to protect our communities. My office was contacted today by Kerri Grassby, who owns and operates a local florist business, Blooms on Brice. Kerri has been hearing from her customers for some time that the Mooroolbark police station has not been open to the public and officers are not answering the door or phones. In fact I am informed that in the region only Knox and Lilydale police stations are open to visitors and taking phone calls.

Unfortunately last night Kerri was directly impacted by these changes when her business was robbed. Mooroolbark police station was called, but no-one picked up. Lilydale police station was called, and the officer stated that they would be unavailable to attend immediately but would attend when possible. This is unacceptable. The security guard then called 000 and officers were able to attend the scene. Mooroolbark police station is barely a few hundred metres from Kerri’s business. Had they picked up the phone, police officers could have been at the scene immediately and possibly have apprehended the robbers. Instead Kerri’s time was wasted in calling police stations that did not answer or told her that she would have to wait awhile. As a result the robbers were able to get away and Kerri will not be getting back the cash and other items that were stolen.

Kerri’s business, like many others in Victoria, has already suffered due to the pandemic, but in addition to that Kerri’s business is opposite the Mooroolbark station, which is currently undergoing level crossing removal works. Her business is already suffering from reduced traffic flow, and now she has been informed that there will be road closures over Valentine’s Day, the busiest day of the year for her. The last thing that Kerri and other local business owners need to worry about is not being able to rely on the police when emergencies arise.

I urge the minister to look closely at the damage being done in communities due to the closure of police stations. For too long the Premier has kept more than 850 police on the borders and off the beat. Even the Police Association Victoria have said the resources are being wasted at the border and that police are stretched. Police resources are not being allocated effectively, and our communities are paying the price. Using such large numbers of police for administrative tasks at the border is a waste. Minister, it is time for police officers to return to local police stations, for our police stations to be adequately resourced and open to the public and for our hardworking police officers to be returned to their role of protecting the community. I again call on the minister to ensure that our police stations are open to the public and resourced to be able to protect our local communities.