Apologies to those in the police force but
I can’t resist using this phrase. Is this literally a case of pork barrelling?

Labor needs to win the seat of Light, the
third most marginal seat (2.3%) to win government in its own right. And locals, especially
in Gawler, want to see
more police on the streets. So does everyone in every area of the
state.
Residential suburbs of Gawler are rife with crime problems. And
currently Gawler is directly serviced by just two patrols and a
Sergeant.

The Lib’s incumbent Malcolm Buckby is also
sick of the crime problem. His office, like other businesses, recently had
ball bearings slung through the front window. On 13 February,
he got a letter from Police Minister Kevin Foley denying a request for the
Police Department to put another patrol and more police in Gawler.

In the letter Foley writes: “I am advised that for a two year
period … from December 2003 to November 2005 … crime has reduced within the
area.” He says they can send more police
from the Elizabeth
service area if needed and Malcolm can contact the Superintendent if he wants
more information.

But since then, it seems something has changed. Gawler
police recently noticed the arrival of new equipment including lockers and a new car … enough new stuff for
five extra police, or an increase of 20% of the current force there.

That’s an enormous boost to troop numbers.
And when do they start? Surprise surprise, we’re told 6 March, 12
days before the state election and six days before Labor’s major campaign rally
in which the government will spout its “Tough on Crime” cry.

Local Mayor Tony Piccolo, who is Labor’s
candidate, must be relieved. Crikey has tried to contact the police for a
comment but the spokesman was in a meeting and unavailable to answer by
deadline. However, the cops at Gawler have been told the six-month trial of the extra officers has been planned
for a long time.

If that’s the case, where did Kevin Foley get
his advice that “crime has reduced“ and extra cops weren’t on the cards? Not enough pork barrelling to go around?

Peter Fray

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