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October 8, 2012

The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester is supporting a $50 million plan to help make our streets safer.

Mr Chester has been campaigning for a national strategy to combat disturbing cases of violence in the local community and has welcomed today’s Coalition policy announcement by Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott.

Mr Chester has raised the issue of community safety in Parliament as well as the joint party room and his campaign has been reflected by the Coalition’s ‘Plan for Safer Streets’.

Mr Chester said the plan would provide ‘Safer Streets, Safer Communities Grants’ to roll out local infrastructure such as better lighting, CCTV and mobile CCTV in crime hotspots.

He said the plan would also see the re-commitment of proceeds of crime funding to community crime prevention activities, reversing Labor’s decision to prop up its budget by freezing funds collected under Proceeds of Crime laws and return this money to the community.

“Unfortunately, there is a small minority of troublemakers who seem incapable of going out at night, particularly on weekends, and enjoying themselves without finding ways to cause a nuisance to others or get involved in violent activities,” Mr Chester said.

“Our local police do a fantastic job, but they cannot be everywhere at once and I think we need to assist them in any way we can.

“A Coalition Government will work with police, business, State and Local Government and residents to fund local solutions to best tackle anti-social behaviour.

“Conducting the program at the ground level will provide communities with the tools to develop the best local strategies, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach and will not only prevent crime but also help to track down offenders when incidents do occur.”

Mr Chester said making sure our streets are safe at night is not solely up to law enforcement officers, it is a whole of community responsibility.

“Our plan is a step forward in the effort being made to reduce anti-social behaviour but it will not solve the problem entirely.”

“As a community we must continue to work together to improve the safety of our streets.”

Mr Chester said the Rudd/Gillard Government had scrapped the previously successful ‘National Community Crime Prevention’ grants program setup by the Howard Government.

“The Howard Government had a very effective grants program to tackle local crime and it was scrapped by the Rudd/Gillard Government, leaving local councils relying on State Government funded programs to implement local crime prevention strategies,” Mr Chester said.

“People have a right to feel safe in their communities at night and the best way to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour is to prevent it happening.

“I will be working with the relevant stakeholders and community representatives to make sure that regional areas including Gippsland receive a fair share of the funding which has the potential to provide even bigger returns in terms of impact if it can be combined with State and Local Government contributions.”

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