By Colin MacGillivray
A LONG-RUNNING stoush over the state of the Whittlesea Police Station between state Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green and upper house opposition Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell flared up last week.
Ms Lovell has been calling for upgrades at the station since 2017, and the Coalition made a $2 million pledge to refurbish it during its 2018 state election campaign.
Ms Lovell said little had been done in the two years since the election, despite the Labor government promising to fund upgrade works.
She said the station remained in an ‘unacceptable condition for both station members and the local community’.
“The current state of the Whittlesea Police Station is a disgrace and the fact that police members are forced to work in such conditions is unacceptable,” she said.
“True to form, Danielle Green’s promise over two years ago amounted to nothing and I call on [Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville] to ensure the upcoming budget includes funding to deliver this essential upgrade.”
Ms Lovell said the station, built in the 1960s, was outdated and too small to properly house its current staff.
She claimed there was no place for members of the community to have confidential conversations with police, no disability access, no facilities for interviewing suspects and no separate male, female or disabled toilets.
Ms Lovell said paint was peeling from the walls and a recent request to paint the station had been denied.
Ms Green hit back at the claims, saying the building of police stations at Mernda, Wallan, Kinglake, Hurstbridge, Diamond Creek and Eltham during her time in office showed her commitment to police.
She said she had continued to advocate for more funding for the Whittlesea station, which was subject to the government’s budget funding process.
“The Victorian Government is investing a record $3 billion in Victoria Police and over the past four years in the Whittlesea police service area we have built the $15 million Mernda Police Station, allocated an additional 53 officers, established an Orange Door and provided more than $587,903 under the Community Crime Prevention program for 16 grants to improve community safety,” she said.
“Shepparton-based Liberal Wendy Lovell knows next to nothing about delivering Victoria infrastructure and increased policing resources in the Yan Yean electorate.
“Victoria Police has in fact refurbished the Whittlesea station interview room, bathrooms, kitchen and station doors, and also invested in a number of security upgrades.”
Ms Green praised the work of Whittlesea police during the COVID-19 pandemic and said she remained committed to supporting them.
“Throughout this most difficult of years, Whittlesea command has rightly focused on the needs of the community ahead of their own,” she said.
“They have taken on an enormous additional workload due to the pandemic and bushfire deployments but still remained focused on tackling local crime, especially family violence.”