Once again, Gunnedah shire is facing a frightening rise in crime.

When people are woken by intruders armed with weapons who chase them through their own home, we are looking at a serious problem. When it happens twice in one night or a number of times across a week, it is a problem that none of us can ignore.

People have a right to feel safe in their own homes, to go to sleep knowing they will wake without fear, and that their children are safe in their beds.

When something like this happens in Sydney or in Brisbane, it is national news. Why is it that when it happens in our regional community, it is just another statistic?

The people of our community’s lives and safety are every bit as important as the lives of people who live in a capital city.

Already, there are people in our shire who have been traumatised by threats of violence. They have been left afraid of what can happen in their own home – the place they should feel most secure.

Last week, two police officers were injured while they carried out a search warrant in Gunnedah. A boy was charged with possess prohibited drug, two counts of assault police officer in execution of duty without actual bodily harm, assault police officer in execution of duty cause actual bodily harm, hinder or resist police officer in the execution of duty, prisoner escape from lawful custody, and breach of bail.

This shows how hard our police work, but they are under-resourced and there is a shocking lack of 24-hour policing in regional areas in comparison to metropolitan areas. Recent data shows that 90 per cent of all police stations in the wider metropolitan Sydney area are open 24 hours a day, compared to regional New South Wales, where only 14 per cent of stations are manned 24 hours.

Not only are metropolitan stations open longer hours, but the 2022-23 NSW Police Annual Report shows stations in metropolitan areas have an average of 68 staff, while regional areas have an average of 16.

It is not good enough, and our community deserves better.

Gunnedah Shire Council has been among 84 local government bodies, along with the Country Mayors Association of NSW, NSW Farmers, the Country Women’s Association, and even the Police Association of NSW, that have called for an inquiry into crime, law and order in regional New South Wales.

All the statistics show that if you live in rural, regional or remote New South Wales, you are more likely to be a victim of crime. We have higher crime rates – and we have fewer police to deal with the problem.

Where is the equity in that equation?

We began this campaign last October with a bipartisan approach to the Lower House of Parliament and are now putting our plea to the Upper House. Our NSW leaders continue to shut down this call, and to ignore the plea of our communities to find answers. The NSW Police Minister told us an inquiry was a “waste of time and resources”.

It is an insult to all the people who call regional and rural New South Wales home.

We can’t continue to see burnt-out cars on the sides of our roads, to fear armed invasions, to hear that domestic violence incidents are higher for our people than for those who live in a city.

It is time to think again.

While our police are struggling to do their best to address the situation, they are not resourced to deal with the level of crime they are now facing.

We need help from our state leaders, and we need it now.

I urge people to continue to be alert but not alarmed, to look after your neighbours and to keep your home and your cars secure. And don’t forget to report any suspicious behaviour to Gunnedah Police on 6742 9099, Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or online, and ring Triple 000 in an emergency.

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