Anger mounts over scrapping of Ipswich Police Comms Centre
THEY'VE got the support of the local government and three MPs, but there is one very important person the Queensland Police Union will have to win over if they hope to reverse a decision to close the Ipswich communications centre.
More than 100 police and civilian employees attended a union rally outside the Yamanto station at 8am yesterday.
Police Union president Ian Leavers told the gathering he would be lobbying Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who still appears to be supporting the QPS decision to relocate communications to Brisbane.
"I'd like to see more consultation but fundamentally, and this is my bottom line, not one person who doesn't want to move from Ipswich will be forced to move," the Premier said.
The QT asked Ms Palaszczuk if the decision may be overturned.
"As I said, there will be further consultation, but I understand the police service is moving towards digitalisation of their communications and they are operational matters for the police service," she said.
Police Minister and Member for Bundamba Jo-Ann Miller - who chose not to attend - also supports the move and has attracted scathing criticism.
Police and civilian employees received the full backing of Cr Pisasale who said Ipswich's population growth of 3.2% justified the upgrading of the Ipswich Communications Centre to accommodate the QCAD system.
"What you need to do is go where the fish are biting," he said.
"People are going to need the safety; they are going to need the police. What's got to happen is more police have to come here."
Mr Leavers slammed Ms Miller and Police Commissioner Ian Stewart for trying to run the QPS "like a business".
"The consultation with the police union was (Superintendent) Glenn Horton leaving a message on my phone saying 'call me back'. That simply doesn't cut it when you've got a government that was elected on the basis that it would work with real people and protect real people and local jobs," Mr Leavers said.
"That flies in the face of the conversations I had with Ms Miller and Mr Stewart (on Tuesday).
"As the Minister said to me, 'Ipswich is only 40km from Brisbane - it's like an outer suburb'. I don't know how she gets that, she is on something, delusional, or since being promoted, she has forgotten where she comes from and what she stands for."
Ms Miller said Ipswich's IMS system was outdated and dangerous and the relocation to Brisbane would improve emergency responses.
The QT has been told that the Ipswich communications room was upgraded with a new phone and radio system last year, at significant cost.
The police hierarchy itself openly admits that the QCAD system can be installed at Yamanto, but that it is simply their decision to utilize the existing facilities at headquarters.
Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said he understood the argument to upgrade Ipswich, but said the only way the QPS could provide the best technology "at a realistic price", was to centralise.
"It is not just about technology. It is about command and control systems and other technology that now goes towards making the very complex animal that is our communications systems," he said.
"This has been planned for 10 years. We are moving Ipswich to Brisbane so that we can give the people of Queensland the safest and best police communications systems necessary for the future."
The Queensland Police Service has reassured Ipswich police and staff that their positions would either be maintained in the Brisbane centre or that they would be given an opportunity to work in a different position in Ipswich.
According to figures provided by the Police Media Unit on Tuesday, the number of staff at the Brisbane communications centre would increase from the current number of 137, to 163 following the relocation.
Federal Member for Blair, Shayne Neumann, state MPs Jennifer Howard and Jim Madden, and local Cr Andrew Antoniolli also offered their support to local police at the rally.
QT Facebook readers posted their support yesterday.
Michelle Byrne said: "Please do not close communications in Ipswich and move them to Brisbane. The move does not make sense. I have tried to find positive aspects of the move and honestly I cannot find a single one."
Sarah Adams added: "Great to see some unity with the local and state politicians with our police... Did the Minister turn up?"