BENAMBRA MP Bill Tilley refused to back away yesterday from his description of a plan to replace police on the beat with specialist squads as “drivel”.
The former policeman said he had “absolutely no issue” with police using such squads.
“But what I take issue with is reducing frontline police in order to fund it,” he said from the Victorian Parliament yesterday.
“Maybe (Victoria Police) should be getting some of their fiscal house in order and using some of that money to fund some of those projects.”
EDITORIAL: Bill Tilley well-qualified to comment
The furore stemmed from comments police Commissioner Ken Lay made when he revealed details from his new “blue paper” at a Rotary Club dinner in Wangaratta on May 15.
The proposal was dismissed by Mr Tilley in a report he put before the party room.
In the report, he described the plan as the “deranged ramblings of some aloof, out-of-touch committee comprised of people who have never walked the beat”.
“Yes, I prepared a document for my parliamentary colleagues,” he said.
But Mr Tilley said yesterday reports on the matter were very much “cherry picked” given his comments were part of a nine-page report.
Nevertheless, he defended his right to express his personal views within the Coalition.
Mr Tilley said some voters and sections of the media wrongly thought of backbenchers as “cowards” who simply followed the party line.
“That’s not the case in the party I’m a member of,” he said.
“I can talk to substantive issues when it comes to policing.
“But we haven’t seen the chief commissioner’s blue paper yet — this is off the back of some comments he made in Wangaratta.”
Mr Tilley said he was concerned the public might lose faith in Victoria Police if it cut the number of officers on the beat.
“Our domestic violence unit is working well in the community and doing good work,” he said.
“But they’re not going to be on the road if you get an incident that’s a hot job, such as a burglary.
“I’m not opposed to task forces but you’ve got to get that balance in correctly using the taxpayer’s dollar — that’s critical,” he said.