Closure of the Hallett Cove Police Station

06 May 2015

Extract from my speech on the 2015 Supply Bill.

Extract from my speech on the 2015 Supply Bill.

Mr SPEIRS ( Bright ) ( 12:17: ): I want to move on to another matter in my electorate at the moment, and that is the closure of the Hallett Cove Police Station, one of several shopfront police stations which are being proposed to be closed by this government, something that was not revealed during the election campaign in 2014. The government continues to put forward the position that it is tough on crime, it wants to be tough on crime, but we now have this announcement, that was not brought up during the election, that eight suburban police stations are to close.

Hallett Cove is an area which has had real difficulties with crime in the past, particularly crime associated with hoon driving, petty vandalism and graffiti. In recent years, the suburb has, however, matured in many ways, but local residents have taken considerable comfort from the fact that a police station was opened in Hallett Cove in 2008. Just 1.5 cycles in the electoral calendar later it is to be closed.

The government made a huge deal in the 2006 election campaign when it won the seat of Bright from the Liberal Party that it would commit to delivering a police station in Hallett Cove if elected in 2006. It was elected in 2006, my predecessor became the Member of Parliament for Hallett Cove and subsequently that new police station was opened. I remember there was a lot of glossy material that went out into electorate. I remember the police minister at the time, Michael Wright, appeared with Chloe Fox on many of those pieces of material, smiling at the official opening of the new police station and taking much pride in being able to deliver that election promise. The police station was opened in 2008 and seven years later the shutters are going to be pulled down on it.

We have been told that the presence of these shopfront community police stations have questionable crime prevention outcomes. While that might be the case in some regards, I think in Hallett Cove we have a large suburb, which when you combine in with Trott Park and Sheidow Park (represented ably by the member for Mitchell) we have a community of 24,000 people. That is the size of the City of Mount Gambier. It sits up there on the plateau above the City of Marion by itself.

It is essentially a regional town within the metropolitan area and served with a service centre around the Hallett Cove Shopping Centre, where there is a growing community precinct. We have the Cove Civic Centre opening in a few weeks’ time, we have several churches and quite a few NGOs and government services based there as well. So, we have this stand-alone community of 23,000 to 24,000 people at Hallett Cove and it is quite a distance from the alternative police stations. Sturt is about eight kilometres or so to the north and Christies Beach is about the same distance to the south.

Those two police stations—Sturt and Christies Beach—are not easily accessible by Hallett Cove residents, and the peace of mind that was provided by having the police station at Hallett Cove was substantial. I have been undertaking a survey of the community, trying to build up evidence in terms of what people think of this police station. Overwhelmingly, people want it to stay but, in particular, it is the peace of mind, the perception that it gives them. If we are to lose the police station, will we be provided with ongoing patrols in the area?

The police commissioner says that the police stations trap police officers in one location and do not enable them to get out into the community to make patrols. If the police station does close, are we going to get a commitment to ongoing patrols around what is essentially in the metropolitan area quite a large and isolated community?

I have written to the police commissioner, Gary Burns, seeking an understanding of crime prevention strategies that will be rolled out around the closure of these police stations, what measures will be taken to give the community confidence that their safety and crime prevention will be a top priority on an ongoing basis with South Australia Police and the state government, and particularly how will we build confidence in the community on an ongoing basis so they can be confident that they are safe despite the police station being closed. I do not want to revert to the days when hoon driving, graffiti vandalism and petty crime was commonplace in Hallett Cove, and I will be fighting hard to ensure that some form of police presence is maintained in that area. I think prevention is much better than cure.

When the police station was opened in 2006, there was much rhetoric from the state Labor government and the previous member that this was a preventative strategy, that it was going to create a police station presence in that community. I am going to be fighting very hard in my communications with the Minister for Police and the police commissioner to ensure that Hallett Cove—and no doubt I will be working alongside the member for Mitchell—and the related communities of Trott Park and Sheidow Park have confidence in security and that crime reduction and crime prevention is maintained, because prevention is better than cure and a police presence in our community is vitally important.

Extracted from Hansard