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Thursday, 13 March 2008
Page: 1828

Mr WOOD (12:31 PM) —In recent weeks in Boronia we have had two serious criminal incidents which I wish to bring to the attention of the chamber. The first was an arson attack in the Boronia Village in late January, which left the Bangkok Gardens Thai restaurant completely gutted and eight other businesses terribly damaged. I really feel sorry for those business owners, whom I have actually met and dealt with, about how much impact this has had on their lives. More recently a 69-year-old woman was robbed at knifepoint at an ATM in Boronia as she put money into her handbag. She was stabbed once in her hand and then twice in her arm by her female assailant before the attacker tore the handbag out of her hands and fled. Even a good Samaritan who saw the struggle and ran after the female robber received stab wounds. This was a very serious incident and will have a great impact on the victims concerned.

In a former life I was a constable at the Boronia police station and also a detective in Boronia, so I know first-hand the troubles and experiences of lack of police resources. It was with great sadness that in 2005 I and Gay Williams, the president of the Boronia Chamber of Commerce, spoke out strongly against the relocation of the Boronia criminal investigation unit to Knox. We previously had the situation, when I was a uniformed policeman at Boronia, that we actually moved the police station to Knox—and then, because of serious crime, the police station and members were brought back to Boronia. Again I look at this as an important issue. I still stand by my position that there should be a criminal investigation branch at both Knox and Boronia. I congratulate state members—the member for Ferntree Gully, Nick Wakeling, and the member for Bayswater, Heidi Victoria—for keeping the Brumby state government accountable for the lack of resources in Boronia.

As many in this place will know, the previous government’s National Community Crime Prevention Plan, NCCPP, was an extremely successful program launched in 2004 to fund grassroots projects to enhance community safety by reducing crime and antisocial behaviour. There were a number of tremendous projects for the local area, including the Cockatoo Township Committee, which received $445,000 for closed-circuit TV cameras as well as other intervention and preventative strategies, and also for assisting our youth. Belgrave residents through the Belgrave Traders Association received $42,000 for closed-circuit TV cameras.

That is why I have been very disappointed. Under the previous government we had an election commitment of $150,000 for closed-circuit TV cameras in Boronia. During the federal campaign, my opponent never raised or supported this issue at all. This was of great concern to the local residents. After the campaign, the local media wanted to know what was happening with these cameras. I suggested they contact the Minister for Home Affairs. It is interesting to note that on 27 February 2008 the Knox Journal reported the following:

Last week the office of home affairs minister, Bob Debus, promised $150,000 for crime cameras in Boronia, but confusion ensued on Monday when Mr Debus’s office said that the promise was actually for a closed-circuit television system in Berwick.

I have no doubt that the residents of Berwick would like closed-circuit TV cameras, and I strongly support that. But, as a former police officer and as the member for La Trobe, the real area in crisis is Boronia. It absolutely saddens me that the minister’s office has made this bungle and is now not committing to crime cameras in Boronia. In actual fact we have been told that the whole funding allocation of the Rudd government to cameras in La Trobe is $150,000, which I find to be an absolute disgrace. Again, I go on to further commitments under the previous government for crime prevention. The Basin Football Club received $5,000; the Emerald Scout Group received $3,000; Knox Community Health, $5,000; and the Berwick RSL, $2,600. Again I call on the minister to commit to funding $150,000 for cameras in Boronia.