Police numbers in NSW and Lake Macquarie

4th May 2021

Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) (15:18): My question is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Given the Government's four-year commitment of $580 million for 1,500 additional police officers prior to the last election, will the Minister update the House on how many new officers have been added so far and when we might see additional officers added to the Lake Macquarie Local Area Command?

Mr DAVID ELLIOTT (Baulkham HillsMinister for Police and Emergency Services) (15:18): I thank the member for Lake Macquarie for taking an interest in police welfare and resources. It is refreshing to get a question about the assets and support this Government is giving our brave men and women in blue. For that reason, probably one of the greatest honours I will ever have is to be able to stand up as the Minister for Police and Emergency Services in this Chamber. As this past year has shown us—and I am sure the member for Lake Macquarie is aware of this—more than ever our police officers have our backs. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week our police officers are protecting communities right across this State. Likewise, this Government has their back, with a record $4.2 billion budget. This year we will continue to see the deployment of the largest single increase for our frontline policing in more than 30 years, on the back of another $585 million commitment from the New South Wales Government.

A snapshot of the deployment of the additional 1,500 police officers includes 182 to general duties positions across regional and rural New South Wales; 45 to child protection and sex crimes positions; 42 to domestic violence high-risk offender positions; and 12 to aged-care crime positions. These numbers will continue to grow as more officers join up and graduate from the NSW Police Force Academy. The member for Lake Macquarie's local police district has already received eight new officers, and they are composed of six field operations positions, an aged-crime prevention officer position and a child protection registration officer position. They stand shoulder to shoulder with the over 18,000 police officers who risk their lives each and every day to keep our communities safe.

Our police receive some of the best training in the world. I am pleased to note that we are spending a record $549 million in police infrastructure, which includes the recently announced $60 million upgrade to the NSW Police Force Academy at Goulburn. We know how important policing is to our community and that modern-day policing is done in close partnership with the community and other combat agencies. Since coming to government we have provided record funding to our close community partners at PCYC, with an $80 million commitment towards club infrastructure, programs and staff across the State, providing more young people with the opportunity to visit a local PCYC. If any member in this Chamber has not visited a PCYC recently they really should; the work being done, particularly with Indigenous youth, is second to none. Our police work hand in glove to deliver a range of programs that help to target youth offending through a range of intervention strategies, including the very successful RISEUP program, Youth Action meetings and Youth on Track programs, just to name a few.

In talking about policing in the northern region, which I know the member for Lake Macquarie is specifically interested in, it would be remiss of me not to mention the contribution of former Assistant Commissioner Max Mitchell, APM, who, after more than 40 years of diligent service to the NSW Police Force, is now able to spend more time on himself following his march-out parade on the streets of Newcastle just last week. I was delighted to join the Parliamentary Secretary for the Upper Hunter from the other place in being part of that ceremony. I place on the record my thanks to Assistant Commissioner Mitchell for his service—and I know I am joined by the member for Lake Macquarie in offering that—and wish him every success in his retirement, spending more time doing what he loves, which he assures me is surfing, golfing and spending time with his family: honourable traits indeed. I acknowledge also the relationship the member for Lake Macquarie had with Assistant Commissioner Mitchell and his staff. I am sure he will make a contribution in this place acknowledging Assistant Commissioner Mitchell's service to his community.

It is our responsibility to ensure that we have the resources and support police officers need to get the job done. That is what this Government is doing. But it is not just the police. All of our emergency services now enjoy a record $180 billion investment across the emergency services fraternity, which is helping to deliver state-of-the-art facilities, and haven't we been able to benefit from that investment in recent times? Fire and Rescue received a record $900 million budget as part of our commitment to keeping communities safe, and the NSW Rural Fire Service has received a record $700 million budget—both services today celebrating St Florian's Day, the patron saint of firefighters across the Western world. The State Emergency Service has not gone without support, with a record $200 million budget. I know the Treasurer saw that firsthand in the electorate of Hawkesbury not long ago. As you travel across the State you see those in uniform benefiting from this particular investment from the Government, and I know every member of this House joins me in thanking them for their service.

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