SFF's police challenge aimed at Nationals

The “re-engineering” of the NSW Police Force has been a major issue in the lead up to Saturday’s Cootamundra by-election.

The Shooters Fishers and Farmers candidate Matthew Stadtmiller this week took aim at the National Party for its handling of police local area command mergers.

The seat has been a Nationals stronghold.

QUESTIONS: MLC Robert Borsak and candidate Matthew Stadtmiller.

QUESTIONS: MLC Robert Borsak and candidate Matthew Stadtmiller.

In Young on Wednesday Mr Stadtmiller questioned why the government was hiding the details of the mergers from voters if the plans are “so good.”

“They’re running around with signs claiming ‘vote Nats for more police’, but this is just another stunt.”

Mr Stadtmiller believes it shows that the National Party will do whatever it needs to win the election.

“But this is playing with people’s lives,” he said.

“Not only are the jobs of un-sworn officers at risk under this merger, but response times will increase and I don’t know how this will improve the effectiveness of our police.”

According to the SFF candidate the mergers are a rural cutback that will only benefit the city.

“The National Party are just doing what they always do – whatever the city Liberal Party tells them.”

Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party MLC Robert Borsak also challenged Police Minister Troy Grant as being weak for not allowing public scrutiny of his Police LAC merger plan.

“Troy Grant is just scared to come clean with voters about his plans to cut Police Local Area Commands in the bush because he just wants to be ‘Mr Popular’,” Mr Borsak said.

Nationals candidate for Cootamundra Steph Cooke reiterated her promise that the number of front line police in the electorate will increase if she is elected this Saturday.

“My promise is unchanged. There will be more frontline police in our communities if I am elected as part of this Nationals & Liberal Government,” Ms Cooke said.

“No ifs, no buts – just a rock solid commitment to delivery.”

Ms Cooke said she and the government understand that policing in the country is different to that in Sydney and that understanding will drive changes that will include more front line police and a new regional Enforcement Squad that will proactively cover known criminals and maintain local police stations.

“The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party will say and do anything to get elected, including deliberately misleading the public about police numbers in the Cootamundra electorate,” she said. “The Shooters are very good at trying to generate smoke without fire, and this is another example of them trying to cast cloud over important issues and shift attention away from their dogged pursuit of legalising military-style semi-automatic weapons.”