Country Mayors Association of NSW chair Jamie Chaffey said it is “insulting” the NSW government has declined to support an inquiry into crime, law and order in regional New South Wales.

It follows the appearance of NSW Police Minister Yasmin Catley in budget estimates earlier this month. The minister was asked by Nationals’ MLC and Gunnedah resident, Sarah Mitchell, whether she would back the call of the mayors’ association.

Ms Catley, who will speak on Friday at the Crime Prevention and Community Safety Conference in Gunnedah, said there have been at least five parliamentary inquiries for police in recent weeks. She was concerned that more hearings would place an unnecessary strain on police resources.

“Every time we ask for a parliamentary inquiry, we are taking more police away from doing their job, which is out in the community, because we’ve got them in here in the NSW Parliament in front of an inquiry,” she said.

CMA chairman and Gunnedah mayor, Jamie Chaffey, said the NSW government refused to listen to the united front of the CMA which represented more than three million residents across the state.

“Statistics show that residents of rural, regional and remote NSW are facing higher crime rates than metropolitan residents, with fewer policing resources to deal with the problems,” Cr Chaffey said. “The situation has escalated, and our communities are worried about their safety.

“It is insulting for our NSW leaders to try to shutdown this call that has come on behalf of millions of NSW residents for a parliamentary inquiry into crime, law and order in regional NSW. You cannot really ‘know’ the depth of the issues unless you live in regional NSW. We will continue to advocate for a parliamentary inquiry to show the full extent of the problem, and to get a commitment to finding solutions.”

The call for action on rural crime was also backed by the Police Association of NSW (PANSW) and the NSW Farmers Association. Just last week, Country Women’s Association (CWA) of NSW also joined the calls for action, with its state executive voting unanimously to support an inquiry.

“The fact that four major organisations that represent so many of our regional residents have publicly joined this call shows just how critical it is,” Cr Chaffey said.

Shadow Minister for Police Paul Toole said bi-partisan support for an inquiry to address regional and rural crime was the only way forward.

“An inquiry would give us the answers we need to questions like what the core issues are and what our hardworking police need to combat this crime,” Mr Toole said.

“This situation cannot go on, we can’t have residents afraid to step out their front door. That’s no way to live, and nobody deserves to feel that way.”

At last week’s November meeting, Gunnedah Shire Council endorsed its own recommendations (see below) in line with the Country Mayors Association of NSW report into Crime, Law and Order and called on State Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson to support the establishment of a parliamentary inquiry. It was understood this support would be forthcoming from Mr Anderson.


Council’s call to government

1. That, Gunnedah Shire Council call on all members of the NSW Parliament to commit to bipartisan support to establish a parliamentary inquiry into and report on the rate of crime in all categories reported on by the Bureau of Crime Statistical and Research (BOCSAR) in Regional, Rural and Remote New South Wales, specifically focussing on the inequity between metro and regional local government areas.
2. That, Gunnedah Shire Council calls on all members of the NSW Parliament to commit to bipartisan support to increase spending on the NSW Police Force to increase front line policing numbers in regional, rural and remote regions most at need.
3. That, Gunnedah Shire Council call on the NSW government to commit to the minimum staffing agreements (known in the NSW Police Force as First Response Agreements) for non-24 hour police stations, all of which are located in regional, rural and remote local government areas.
4. That, Gunnedah Shire Council calls on the NSW government to review the current formula used to assess staffing levels including the universally agreed outdated current model for those local government areas that do have a First Response Agreement in place.

To order photos from this page click here