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Police shortage in regional WA

The McGowan Government’s refusal to keep its election pay promise to WA Police is hindering the State’s ability to attract officers to regional areas.

The Nationals spokesperson for police Hon Marin Aldridge MLC said new statistics revealed country police stations looking to fill 44 vacancies had received zero applications in recent months.

“WA Police Regional WA Commander Lawrence Panaia is on the record saying the current pay dispute has directly impacted the number of applicants,” Mr Aldridge said.

“Prior to the election Mark McGowan promised to retain the Liberal-National Government’s wages policy of a 1.5 per cent increase but the Premier has since abandoned that commitment.

“Now, the ripple effects of the Premier’s broken promise are starting to bubble to the surface.”

With State debt headed north of $40 billion, Mr Aldridge said Labor’s decision to cap public sector wage increases at $1,000 would only improve the State Budget bottom-line by $520 million over the next four years – or 1.23 per cent.

“Why is the Premier creating so much pain for police officers and their families for such little gain in the Budget?,” Mr Aldridge said.

“On top of that, the Premier is now jeopardising safety in regional communities by refusing to offer police officers a fair pay deal which he promised to deliver.

“It is hard to fathom why the Premier continues to play hardball with our police officers who put their lives on the line day-in, day-out while refusing to negotiate an increase to the rental fee of BHP and Rio Tinto, which has remained at 25c per tonne for more than 50 years.”

Mr Aldridge said The Nationals had a strong track record of supporting WA Police, particularly in regional WA, and understood the WA Police Union’s frustration over the McGowan Government’s actions.

“It has always been difficult to attract and retain officers in hard-to-fill regional locations,” Mr Aldridge said.

“My concern is that the situation will worsen and regional communities will suffer.”

Mr Aldridge said it was disappointing the new Labor Government had compromised the work done by The Nationals with its attraction and retention incentives in the South West, along with overhauling district allowances for the rest of the State, through its Royalties for Regions program.

“It was The Nationals, through Royalties for Regions, that increased district allowances for police officers in regional WA to the tune of $208 million, provided $94.5 million to replace the old analogue Police Regional Radio Network with a digital radio system covering more than 18,000 square kilometres, and funded long overdue upgrades to police housing across the State,” he said.

“The Nationals are calling on the Government to ensure that resourcing at country Police stations will not be impacted as a result of their broken promises.”