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Safer communities important part of Coalition's plan for the future: Premier
28/01/2001 1:00 PM
Thieves, paedophiles and drug dealers will face tougher penalties as part of the Coalition’s commitment to safer communities in Western Australia.
The ‘tough on crime’ initiatives were outlined by Premier Richard Court as he officially launched the Liberal Party’s 2001 election campaign in Mandurah today.
Mr Court said creating safer communities was part of the Coalition’s clear vision for the State.
“Our plan for the next decade is also designed to deliver a strong economy, strong jobs growth, support and strengthen families and provide quality services in areas such as education and health,” he said.
Crime and Punishment
“The Coalition has demonstrated a real commitment to supporting Western Australian families and increasing community safety - we will take that even further with measures targeting those who prey on the innocent and vulnerable in our community,” Mr Court said.
“Our polices have a strong emphasis on early intervention and prevention strategies which are often long term in nature - but where people do offend they must be held to account.”
Under the Coalition plan:
the successful three strikes legislation will be expanded;
minimum sentences for crimes against the elderly will be increased;
a register of drug traffickers will be established; and -
indefinite penalties will be imposed for repeat paedophiles - they will also have to complete treatment programs before their release can be considered.
“Under a Coalition Government the crime rate in the State has stabilised and in some categories has declined, but there is more to be done and we will continue to introduce innovative and appropriate measures to make our communities safer and come down firmly on those who do wrong,” Mr Court said.
“Too many people are put at risk investigating what is happening in their own driveway - this cannot be tolerated,” he said.
“The three strikes laws for burglary will be extended to include theft of a motor vehicle from a person’s home or its surrounds.”
Crimes against the elderly
“Elderly people are a particularly vulnerable group in our community - thugs who prey upon them deserve to feel the full force of the law,” the Premier said.
“A Coalition Government will make it mandatory that those criminals who commit crimes against persons 60 years or over will have their minimum sentence increased by two years.”
Drug Traffickers Register
“Drugs are a curse in our community,” Mr Court said.
“We have a comprehensive drug strategy including the recently established Drugs Court and the Confiscation of the Proceeds of Crime legislation.
“However, we believe that more can be done to protect innocent communities from the dealers of death and misery who supply drugs to our children and family members.
“We believe that the community should have the right to find out if a convicted drug trafficker or dealer is living in their neighbourhood.
“For this reason we will legislate to create a Drug Traffickers Register showing the name and most recent address of convicted drug traffickers. They will remain on the Register for at least 10 years after they are released from prison.”
Those on the list would have been identified as ‘Declared Drug Traffickers’. A person with three or more dealing convictions or a single conviction involving trafficable amounts, as set out under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
Tougher penalties for paedophiles
“As well as crimes against the elderly, the community is outraged by those who prey on our children,” Mr Court said.
“Repeat child sex predators will be detained at the Governor’s Pleasure and will not be released unless it can be guaranteed that their offending behaviour has been addressed.”
The Premier said the initiatives formed part of a comprehensive law and order strategy developed by the Coalition.
“We are committed to creating a safer WA and we are motivated by doing what we believe will work in tackling crime,” he said.
“The Labor Party on the other hand is shackled by a party philosophy that has dictated that they are soft on drugs and opposed to measures such as the three strikes and you’re in legislation.
“Whether it be in law and order, education, health of the provision of infrastructure, the Coalition has a clear vision for this State.”
Mr Court said the Coalition had a range of innovative and exciting initiatives across a range of areas to back up that vision.
“One of the most important things a Government can do is help provide our children with a quality education,” the Premier said.
“We have a proud record in terms of new educational facilities, the roll-out of new technology in our schools and a strong emphasis on early childhood education.
“Technology is driving a fundamental change in the way we live, interact and learn.
“We have, in recent years, allocated an additional $100 million for computers and technical support in schools - the Coalition will now build on that investment.”
Mr Court said that over the next four years, the Coalition would allocate an additional $100 million to implement the Education Link Strategy - which would see the latest computer technology made available to teachers including laptops and emerging technologies such as ‘thin client’ computers and ‘smart cards’.
“We know that health is a key issue for all Western Australians and that is why we have spent more per capita on health than any other State,” the Premier said.
“The Coalition has had a clear plan of bringing health services to where people live, for example, we’ve built four new hospitals - while Labor built none in 10 years.
“Over the next term of Government we will spend $8 billion on health services. As part of our plan, we will build a new $40 million state-of-the-art day surgery hospital in Mirrabooka.
“We will also build three new ‘step down’ facilities with at least 70 beds for convalescing patients and those awaiting aged care places. These will be at Osborne Park, Rockingham/Kwinana and Swan District Hospitals.
“This will provide Western Australians with additional world-class health facilities and help relieve pressure on our major teaching hospitals.”
Mr Court said the Coalition was also committed to addressing the shortage of nurses and other health professionals in rural areas.
“These people are the backbone of our health system,” he said.
“The Coalition will introduce a package of measures to attract young people to work in our regional health system."
The Coalition would:
double the number of scholarships for nursing, for both the pre-registration and postgraduate years of training;
introduce Rural Health Studentships to encourage more nursing, medical, dental and allied health students to consider a future in rural and remote health care practice. The program would enable students to spend periods of their summer vacation investigating aspects of rural health policy or practice; and -
provide $17 million for accommodation for nurses and other health professionals in rural areas.
Mr Court said that while Labor was hell-bent on turning back the clock on our industrial relations system to entrench union control, the Coalition would continue to promote a positive and productive workplace for employers and employees alike.
“We will retain workplace agreements and expand employee protection provisions under State legislation,” he said.
“One of the initiatives that will see us as a Government leading the way as a major employer in this State is our plan to introduce paid parental leave for workers across the public sector.”
Currently, there is an entitlement to 52 weeks’ parental leave following the birth of a child.
“Under the new arrangement primary care givers will be paid for the first six weeks. This will be phased in over three years," Mr Court said.
“This is a significant initiative that recognises the value of parenting and supports families in WA.”
Mr Court said the Coalition had demonstrated a willingness to invest in the infrastructure required by a strong, growing State.
“There is no better example than our commitment to roads, a crucial ingredient in a State the size of WA,” he said.
“We have undertaken a massive roads program that has seen billions of dollars spent on new roads and improvements to existing roads both in the metropolitan and regional areas.
“While Labor will not commit on maintaining road funding levels - a sure sign that they plan to cut them - the Coalition will continue to build our road network.
“Today, for example, we are pleased that the Prime Minister has announced that the Commonwealth Government will provide $76 million towards work on the Roe Highway.
“This will allow the completion of the Roe Highway extension to the Kwinana Freeway. We will also bring forward work on the extension of the Tonkin Highway to Thomas Road.”
Mr Court said all of these initiatives were just a ‘snapshot’ of the Coalition’s comprehensive plans for the State.
“The people of WA know what the Coalition stands for, they have seen that we can get things done,” he said.
“It is clear that the Coalition would safeguard the future of our State and help take WA from strength to strength - all that would be at risk under a Labor government.”
Media reference: Casey Cahill 9222 9475