Many regional Victorians calling triple zero are being left to wait for dangerously long periods and their emergency calls are being diverted to Melbourne because the Brumby Government has repeatedly refused funding to upgrade overburdened and outdated D24 police call centres, Shadow Minister for Bushfire Response and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan said today.
During Question Time in Parliament today Mr Ryan said regional communities were depending on the efficiency of emergency call centres for protection this fire season.
“It is appalling that the D24 police centres in Mildura, Bendigo, Ballarat, Moe and Wangaratta do not yet have technology to electronically log calls and manage jobs,” Mr Ryan said.
“Police officers who should be out on the front line serving their community, are instead being forced to answer phones, write emergency details on cards, and then manually contact police in the field using unreliable 30 year-old analogue radios.
“Even more disturbing is the fact that there are as few as four phone lines at these centres, leaving the critical situation where calls are going unanswered for up to three minutes.”
Mr Ryan said the Labor Government had repeatedly turned a blind eye to the crisis, rejecting Victorian Police funding submissions to upgrade regional communications in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008.
“Victoria Police want to move their communication centre to the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) centre in Ballarat, which is home to the Country Fire Authority, State Emergency Services and regional ambulance communications systems,” Mr Ryan said.
“The Brumby Government has left regional Victorians dangerously unprepared this bushfire season by refusing Victoria Police this crucial funding to operate regional communications in Ballarat.
“Police could be much better utilised on the front line where they belong rather than being crammed into run down offices to take emergency calls on limited phone lines.
“Victorians deserve to feel safe in the knowledge that their emergency calls will be responded to quickly and that their local police are available to do more than answer emergency calls,” Mr Ryan said.