Public Safety on Victoria's Train System (13.04.2016)
Written on the 3 May 2016
Auditor-General: Public Safety on Victoria's Train System
Statements on reports and papers
GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)
I am pleased to be able to rise and speak to the Victorian Auditor-General's Public Safety on Victoria's Train System report of February 2016.
I note that throughout this report there is reference to protective services officers (PSOs), who of course have been deployed right across Melbourne's rail network. I will come back to that point in a moment, because it was a policy of the former coalition government which I would have to say was the subject of quite scathing criticism by the then opposition but something that it is now embracing in government.I think it was a policy that was developed because, as this report states, there was a previous Victorian Auditor-General's Office audit that looked at personal safety and security on the metropolitan train system. It was conducted in June 2010, and it brought to our attention a number of areas. Looking at that audit, there was a degree of wanting to improve the perception of passenger safety. That needed focus and attention, as the report highlighted. The audit wanted the government to look at ways to manage crime and obviously get on top of what was a very real concern for commuter safety and community safety across our metropolitan rail systems and in other areas across our public transport system.
I was very pleased to be part of the government that delivered on that very effective policy. There were 950 protective services officers (PSOs) deployed across 170 rail stations by the time the coalition left government in 2014. It was a very clear focus, and it had real, tangible benefits. In my area of Southern Metropolitan Region an article in 2013 in one of the local Leader newspapers was headed 'Police praise new Bentleigh station protective services officers for easing their workload'.The article refers to drunkenness and public order issues which were tying up police resources. Putting in PSOs really did make a huge difference in lightening the loads of our police force, but it also made the commuters, more importantly, feel much safer, especially at night. The PSOs could deal with many of these safety concerns and minor issues they are not actually minor crimes; they are crimes like graffiti or vandalism, or the stealing of cars in rail car parks et cetera. They are not minor by any stretch, and as we have seen an increase in crime across the state in the last year we need to do more to curtail that increase.
I want to make just a couple of comments in relation to various issues on our public transport system, but I cannot go on without saying that Minister Allan has taken it on herself to develop her own little luxury lounge in the Bendigo rail station, which I believe is only a few hundred metres from her actual office.Mrs Peulich A powder room, is it?
Ms CROZIER The powder room! It might be the powder room. It is locked. You need an appointment to get in there and meet the minister, so one would question what on earth this luxury lounge is all about and why the minister needs it.Mr Herbert Come on. When you are a minister you have to get through security.
Ms CROZIER Mr Herbert, the point isHonourable members interjecting.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Finn) Order! Minister!Ms CROZIER I think it goes to the heart of the priorities of this government. Continually we have seen ministers' offices being done up to the nines. The office of the Leader of the Government in this house has seen significant money over $300 000 was spent on it. It is becoming a bit of a theme of members opposite certainly looking after themselves. As I said, one would ask why this office is there when it is continually locked and you need an appointment
Mrs Peulich Sounds like gold-plated toilet seat covers.
Ms CROZIER I do not know; I have not seen it, but next time I am in Bendigo I might drop in and see. Nevertheless, I just want to say that commuter safety is of paramount importance and we must continue to do whatever we can. I commend the former coalition's policy of PSOs and the great work they do.