The matter I raise is for the attention of the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and it relates to the closure by him and his government of the Heidelberg West police station. Two months ago in this place the minister said:
- … I will seek advice from police command, and I will respond to the member accordingly. The matters that were put to me by police command were reflected in the letter that I wrote to the member, and should it be that there are other matters that police command, which ultimately controls these things, is able to advise me of in a manner that might be of assistance with the issues the member has raised, then I will certainly outline them to him.
He further said:
- I wrote the letter in good faith on the basis of the advice that came to me; nevertheless I will check that advice and provide further commentary to the member when I have it.
The action I seek is for the minister to respond to me and the Heidelberg West community regarding the operational status of the Heidelberg West police station as he indicated he would do in his response during the adjournment debate in September. He has failed to provide a response on this matter, though he gave an undertaking to do so.
We have been waiting for that response from the minister for over two months, and an article has appeared this week in the Heidelberg Leader entitled ‘Station shut –by stealth–‘. The article says:
- The Police Association says the state government is lying to the public over the closure of the Heidelberg West police station.
- Last Wednesday he —
that is, the Minister for Police and Emergency Services —
- said the issue was a police command matter.
He has gone to the 101 book for obfuscating police ministers and decided this is now going to be a matter he is going to handball. The article went on to quote the police as saying:
- The long-term future of Heidelberg West police station is still under consideration …
The article also went on to quote the Police Association Victoria as saying the government:
- … had been running a charade, depriving Heidelberg West of a police service, while putting pressure on officers at Greensborough and Heidelberg.
The article went on to quote the association as saying:
- The agenda for Victoria Police is to close the station by stealth and drive the lifeblood out of it … They are now saying something that we have known all along.
Acting Speaker, we have known all along in Heidelberg West, and we have known all along in the Ivanhoe electorate, that this government’s agenda has been to close the Heidelberg West police station.
I note that the letter in April from the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Peter Ryan, said the Heidelberg West police station:
- … will not close and the station remains able to be staffed as required. The chief commissioner has indicated that the 80 hours per fortnight that were rostered to the West Heidelberg counter inquiries will continue to be used to service the needs of the Banyule community including through local patrols.
Has he come out to Heidelberg West? He needs to get out of the bush, get down to the northern suburbs of Melbourne and explain to the people of Heidelberg West why their police station has closed, why he is doing nothing about it but blaming and hiding behind everyone else and why he is not being responsible in responding to these matters.