On the 15th of June, I staged a community Law and Order forum at Drysdale.
It was well attended by residents worried about the increasing and ugly state of crime in our region.
Also attending the forum were the Shadow Minister for Police, Shadow Attorney-General and the Shadow Minister for Prevention of Family Violence.
I invited local police to attend. I thought it was very important that they not only contribute – but that they also hear directly from their community.
However, the police advised me they were not allowed to attend because it would be deemed ‘political’.
I was really disappointed – for the community’s sake.
It was with great interest then that I noticed, not only police attendance, but their lead roles at two crime forums in the region last week chaired by the local Member for Bellarine and Police Minister, Lisa Neville.
I’m very pleased the police were there.
But I noted it with some concern and a little angst.
I am equally a local Member of Parliament and representative of this part of the state. I would have thought police attendance at my Drysdale forum was similarly relevant.
Of course, I understand Ms Neville is the Police Minister and that she is a member of the current Government.
I do hope it is not just a case of playing politics with police.
It is a mighty fine line the Minister is treading.
The last time Labor did this, Simon Overland was heading the Force, and crime statistics were being fiddled to the Government’s advantage. It led to the Baillieu Government establishing the independent Crime Statistics Agency.
I also note Ms Neville’s first dismissive response to the crime figures.
What a strange sight it must have been for her when 400 people packed community halls utterly scared about the crime reality she doesn’t see.
Things happen when you look the other way.