Nationals MP Geoff Provest has responded vigorously to a press release, from Labor media, calling Guy Zangari MP and Labor candidate for Tweed Craig Elliot ‘clowns’ for suggesting that the Berejiklian Government has the ‘wrong priorities’ in committing $2.2 billion for Sydney stadiums over the desperate need to fund more police officers for regional areas including Tweed.
On Tuesday in a joint statement, Shadow Police Minister Guy Zangari and Labor candidate for Tweed and former frontline police officer Craig Elliot said that the Berejiklian Government is quick to tout that they are flush with cash, but they are clearly prioritising two Sydney stadiums over the NSW Police Force and community safety.
Guy Zangari MP said in the release that community safety should come before any new stadium. ‘Geoff Provest and his Sydney Liberal Government have the wrong priorities and are neglecting our frontline officers and putting community safety at risk.
‘There is no greater example of this than Geoff Provest agreeing to waste $2.2 billion on demolishing and re-building two existing stadiums in Sydney while spending on the NSW Police Force has plummeted to a record low under his government.
Mr Zangari said that Provest had sold out locals because it’s the boots on the ground that keeps the community safe. ‘What we have here is a lack of investment in police in the Tweed Byron District as the thin blue line protecting our communities is expected to do more with less.’
The NSW Police Association has highlighted the dire need for an extra 500 police officers this year, with a further 500 each year over the term of the next incoming government in order to keep up with rising crime rates occurring in towns and suburbs across the state.
In Tweed the chronic shortage of frontline officers has seen the NSW Police Association publicly call for an additional 31 police officers to tackle the region’s ice epidemic which is ranked in the top 10 regional hotspots for the drug.
Mr Elliot said as a former frontline police officer he understands firsthand that extra officers make for a safer community and more police proactively patrolling our suburbs means residents will be safer in their homes.
‘I share the community’s concern that crime is sharply on the rise yet we have less police here in the Tweed today than we did in 2012 due to massive cuts in local police numbers under Geoff Provest and his Sydney Liberal government.
‘I know that our Tweed police do a great job but the cuts to their numbers under the Nationals are hurting locals and putting our police officers unnecessarily in harm’s way. It’s not good enough and I’m serious about fixing the Tweed police crisis caused by Geoff Provest.’
A response from the Nats MP
Geoff Provest responded yesterday by saying that Labor is once again playing politics with serious matters. ‘Recent crime events have had nothing to do with how many police are in the Tweed, that suggestion is repugnant,’ he said.
‘Crime in the Tweed is actually seeing a downward trend due to the fantastic work done by local police, and the crime rate is far lower than when Labor was in Government.
‘If the Shadow Police Minister and the candidate, a former police officer, can’t read the publicly available crime statistics then the community can have no confidence in a future Labor Government.
Mr Provest says Labor has lied about matters relating to the Tweed Hospital and now they’re lying about the crime rate in the Tweed, ‘How can the community expect anything they say to be true?
‘The truth is Craig Elliot was the Senior Advisor for the Queensland Police Minister responsible for cutting police numbers on the Gold Coast.
‘The truth is Labor never took police numbers seriously in government. Police numbers have increased to record levels under the NSW Liberals and Nationals.
’It’s time these clowns actually developed a plan for the Tweed rather than simply instilling unnecessary fear in the community.’