Lines in the sand Part 2

with apologies, in advance, to (most) readers ….. Nigel says “all” ……who will have absolutely no interest in designated special remote areas……….. sometimes I think I just love the sound of my own keyboard.

On February 26, 2003 an article appeared in Dubbo’s Daily Liberal, under the heading Funds to entice police to remote locations. The article reported:

Policing in smaller stations across NSW was given a boost yesterday when police minister Michael Costa announced a major funding injection to entice officers to the bush.

Mr Costa said attracting police to remote areas, maintaining high visibility and rural crime investigation prompted the $906,000 NSW Police Remote Locations Plan.

Speaking to the Western Division NSW Shires Association in Nyngan, Mr Costa revealed the plan was designed to fill the 80 or so positions that are vacated in 332 ‘remote’ or ‘special remote’ stations every year.”

This fully-funded and fully-costed plan will help solve this long-standing problem for NSW,” he said.

“Visible policing will continue – the community wants to see more police on the streets.”

Remote or special remote stations are those with just one or only a handful of officers and meet a range of other criteria including access and distance to centres where major services are available.

Mr Costa said the local police officers also fulfilled a community role in these small towns.

“Policing in the bush is different to policing in the city,” he said.

“Police serving in remote parts of NSW are more than law enforcement officers. They become pillars of their local communities and the place they occupy in small country towns is central to the social fabric.”

The Police Remote Locations Plan begins with an immediate one-off $5000 payment for officers who take up appointments in a remote or special remote station.

“This will be at a cost of around $400,000 per year,” Mr Costa said.

Within remote locations, there’s a subset, called special remote locations, which can attract additional incentives over and above the Award, and in September 13, 2007 a second article appeared – this time in the The Sydney Morning Herald:

NSW Police offers a one-off payment of $5000 to police officers who transfer to remote locations and a $5000 retention allowance to those who transfer to certain ‘special remote locations’.

Removal costs are paid when transferring to duties – such as lock-up keeper or sector supervisor – that require living in premises owned by NSW Police. Rental subsidies are also available. Computers and internet access may be provided to police officers in remote locations, and they will receive priority transfer once they complete tenure at a special remote location.”

Now these additional benefits are not to be sneezed at (do people still say that?) and can also include  partial reimbursement of electricity and internet charges as well as school uniforms and fees and even an annual spousal allowance – Yes, they paid me to put up with Nigel!!  ……..Just joking. I imagine the allowance was for occasional door knocks and phone calls when Nigel wasn’t home. Lock up keepers are always ‘on duty’.

The list goes on and even includes a $5,000 retention payment should you decide to stay another year. However the main incentive for us came down to that one particular clause about priority transfer. Under this Award, special remote tenures gain priority for the next tenure.       

Without that incentive, it might have taken years, if ever, to return to Paradise and without that certainty we probably never would have applied for a second or third tenure. 

So how were these remote and special remote locations designated in the first place? To be honest, I don’t know. It seems that remote classification might have started somewhere around 1992 and the special remote subset came some time later. Reasoning probably included the availability of medical and other public services, distances to the next large town, availability of back-up emergency services, temperatures…. Who knows?

Since then, just like the zone tax offsets, things have changed. Once tiny towns like Wee Waa and Cobar have grown and prospered, while others have struggled.

Just down the road from us, Nyngan police station has failed to achieve full staffing for months due in part, I suspect, to its remote classification. If Nyngan were suddenly included in the special remote subset I reckon the vacancy would be filled by Christmas.

Page 71 Item 79 of the Award states “A list of Special Remote Locations and Special Remote Location tenure will be maintained in the NSW Police Force Transfer Guidelines. Changes to the content of that list will be subject to agreement between the Parties. Agreement will not be unreasonably withheld.”

So what shall I do with my brilliant, ‘light bulb’ moment? Should I write to my local MP? Again?Do I think there’s even a chance that the special remote area list might be amended to include Nyngan?

Sorry Nyngan. Nigel says “probably not”.

WordPress has just informed me that this was my 100th Blog. Sorry it was so dry. Next time there’ll be pictures…. promise!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: