Point problem at Parliament

Peter Farago
GEELONG’S council has pointed the finger over who is responsible to ensure a safe environment in the city centre and plenty of groups aren’t lifting their share of the weight.
That’s the assessment City Hall presented to councillors this week as the council continued its offensive to clean up central Geelong after dark.
Officers listed more than a dozen initiatives designed to increase the safety in central Geelong, from Safe City Cameras to public lighting and graffiti management to public music.
But officials bemoaned a lack of help from other lead agencies and groups that should have a more prominent role in ensuring order in central Geelong once the sun goes down.
“In the drive to deliver the vision for central Geelong it’s been left for council to take the lead role in not only planning and facilitating safety projects but also resourcing and doing the work,” officials said in a report to council
“However, other agencies need to be more engaged in future and a coordinated strategic approach needs to be developed.”
It’s amazing Geelong’s council has finally found its voice on this issue.
Of course, last year would have been better but it was obvious that the then-council, led by federal Labor aspirant Peter McMullin, didn’t want to rock Mr Brack’s boat with horror stories of violence on Geelong’s streets.
For several years it’s been up to council, with the aid of local police, to take control of central Geelong and, in particular, to level off alcohol-inspired activity in the city.
Even local MPs have been quick to throw the hot potato of controlling violence and serving of liquor into the arms of councillors.
But with a new mayor – police officer Bruce Harwood – comes a new offensive to ensure everyone does their bit.
And council has a list of what different groups need to do:
• Department of Infrastructure should commit to additional transport services at critical timing;
• increased involvement of Powercor in providing and auditing street lighting;
• licensed venue inspections;
• a review of a potential late-night lock-out at city venues;
• police foot patrols at key times and continuation of Operation Nightlife;
• strengthening a good sports program;
• treating serious offences with appropriate penalties in court; and
• discussing the need to additional resources to agencies with relevant State Government ministers.
This reads like a list of grievances – one that council should have made public last year when state politicians could have been asked to be accountable for community safety.
But these issues aren’t new and many have been in the public arena for years.
It’s time our elected officials did something to solve them.
It’s time our MPs rolled up their sleeves at Parliament House and pushed for a better approach to solving Geelong’s safety issues.
The same MPs that didn’t listen to a public meeting of rank and file police officers in Geelong complaining about their own resourcing issues.
It’s time Geelong had support from its MPs for these important issues.