Police appear to have done a U-turn on their proposal to reallocate 111 road policing staff and disestablish 26 vehicle safety officer positions.
National manager of road policing, superintendent Steve Greally, said police had welcomed the Government's announcement regarding a $10 million increase in road policing funding, as it meant the proposed changes would no longer be required.
“There are still a number of details to be worked through as we now conclude the consultation process and we will be communicating with our staff and stakeholders about this over the coming days,” said Greally.
The reallocation of 111 road policing staff was first signalled back in May 2016 following confirmation of a $960 million road policing budget.
In March this year Greally said the reallocation included a proposal to disestablish 26 authorised officers’ positions from the Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit. The authorised staff work as vehicle safety officers, and have a more limited range of powers than police officers.
Police consulted with road safety partner agencies and representatives from the heavy vehicle industry over the proposal. Those in the industry greeted the proposal with disbelief, saying it would have a significant effect on safety.
Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley said the RTF welcomed news the cuts would not go ahead. He said the proposal was not a government initiative but a police internal discussion document that was widely leaked.
“We’re delighted, we put in a strong submission, and the whole proposal seemed from the outset somewhat illogical to us.”
Shirley said the outcome was pleasing, as the RTF had put in a strong submission supporting the retention of the VSOs.
“The concept of doing away with that capacity and capability was a foolish proposition from the outset, and I doubt they ever intended to do it.
“I think the integrity and the sincerity of the police proposal was highly questionable. I don’t think they ever intended to make the cut; it was just a way of getting more money. It was the most provocative proposal; government didn’t know anything about it.”