The war of words between Senator Sam McMahon and the NT Government has continued today over police staffing in remote areas.
In a newsletter today, Senator McMahon continues to call out Police Minister Nicole Manison on the real success of the government's much publicised police recruitment success.
Senator McMahon said during her travels around the Territory she had learned the dire state of police staffing.
"Minister Manison has made countless statements over the past several years, telling Territorians she is going to add 120 "additional" Police Constables to the NT Police," she said.
"After being in the job for more than four years Minister Manison is yet to deliver on that promise and, worse, she continues to ignore the critical state of affairs for police working in remote areas."
Ms Manison has told Katherine Times under the current NT Government there were more police on the beat than ever before.
"If Senator McMahon was serious about helping our police she needs to stand with us and fight to see the renewal of federal funding for remote policing which is due to expire in 2022."
Senator McMahon said the NT Government was trying to distract Territorians from its own failings by blaming the Commonwealth.
"Since 2015 the Commonwealth Government has provided more than $20 million per year to the NT Government, to be used for recruitment and training of additional Police officers in the NT," she said.
"Regardless of what she tells Territorians, Minister Manison's 120 'additional' police never happened. In her latest public comment on the issue she claims 'an extra 131 police' have been delivered, however, when you look into the actual numbers you learn less than half were police. The remainder were a variety of support staff."
Senator McMahon said the NT Government is set to receive two more years of additional funding for police recruitment, which she said means there is a lot of money available for Minister Manison to urgently address this serious problem.
"At the heart of this crisis is a duty of care issue and the Minister for Police must take urgent action."
The government announced in July a $20 million plan to recruit an extra 131 police and support staff (and vehicles) to boost support in remote areas.
Breakdown of the extra 131 staff includes:
- 66 additional frontline Constables to help manage additional tasks brought on by COVID-19 while continuing to tackle youth crime and alcohol abuse;
- 30 Aboriginal Liaison Officers (ALO): to ensure stronger relationships between our police and indigenous communities;
- 10 Aboriginal Community Police Officers (ACPO), and;
- 25 Support Staff including policy and administrative support, college support and additional welfare support for officers.
"In my role as Senator for the Northern Territory I travel across the NT a great deal and I meet with as many people as I can, including serving Police, Fire and Emergency Services staff. Many have told me of the serious understaffing issues across all stations but cite the issue in remote locations is far worse," Senator McMahon said.
"The grind at remote bush stations is a tough one, requiring police to frequently work long hours, often deprived of a day off, and includes being contacted at any time of day or night to respond to urgent matters," she said.
"It is critical they are permitted to utilise their recreation leave to access true rest and relaxation. Additionally, they must also participate in recurrent and ongoing training which also necessitates them having relief staff available.
"Being a bush copper is a tough gig on a good day and Territorians are fortunate to have so many willing to make the necessary sacrifices to provide police services in remote areas.
"Recently, a Constable spoke with me about a number of instances where a single police constable has been left to run stations that are intended to have multiple police members stationed at them.
"In at least one instance, the sole remaining Police Constable had only recently completed their probation as a new member. In another instance a single police officer was left to run a remote station for 31 days. I hear of these horror stories frequently and I am gravely concerned for the well-being of police members serving in these remote areas," Senator McMahon said.
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