Somerville Police Station

It is behaviour that can only be described as sheer political bastardry. Denying a community the protection that it badly needs and campaigned for for over a decade to secure, simply out of political spite, because it was built by a Liberal government, is unfortunately the kind of conduct that has become an everyday occurrence in Victoria under the Premier and Labor.

In raising this matter on this most recent occasion, I encouraged the minister to at least try doing her job by seeking funding from the Treasurer in the government’s recent budget.

In a recent and very disturbing event a young Pearcedale woman narrowly escaped serious harm when the car she was driving was forced off the road late at night and then blocked in by a car driven by two males. When these men left their car to try and force entry into the young woman’s vehicle, she was able to escape by driving up over the curb and along the footpath.

This person saved herself through her own quick thinking.

Built by the coalition state government in 2014, the state-of-the-art Somerville police station still awaits its first local police officer; a six-year period throughout which crime in the local area has worsened.

The Somerville police station was built as a part of a Liberal government overhaul of local police resourcing, under which the Hastings police station would keep its complete current contingent of officers, while having the area it covers cut in half. Between the Hastings and Somerville police stations, the Western Port area would finally have had the level of police resourcing it needs and deserves.

The community deeply respects and appreciates the work our local police do. However, they are stretched further and more thinly every day.

My repeated requests to this government to open this important facility have fallen on deaf ears. Last week I received the latest dismissive response from the Minister for Police and Emergency Services.

The minister’s answer said that deployment of police is a matter for the Chief Commissioner, using the staffing allocation model (SAM) and that SAM had been developed by Victoria Police, in consultation with the Police Association of Victoria. The minister’s response claimed that deployment of police resources is solely determined by evidence and in so doing it also safeguards the operational independence of Victoria Police.

Clearly the current Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Member for Bellarine has forgotten that in the 2015–16 state budget and again on 12 May 2015 at a PAEC inquiry into budget estimates 2015–16 her predecessor revealed that at the same time as the Andrews government was refusing to provide police to open the Somerville police station, $7.8 million was allocated to provide 15 new sworn police officers in several Labor-held electorates.

The minister also failed to mention that the then secretary of the Police Association had attended a public rally in Somerville and called on the Andrews government to open the Somerville police station.

The Somerville community campaigned for more than a decade to secure its own police station and today, once again, as I have done repeatedly since 2015, I call on the minister for police to put aside petty politics and finally provide the police officers to open the badly needed Somerville police station to improve community safety and help reduce crime across the local region.