The State Government says the role of the Queensland Police Major and Organised Crime Squad (Rural) – also known as the Stock Squad – will not change and says it has “rejected” Opposition claims to the contrary.
LNP Member for Condamine Pat Weir last week asked a question without notice in State Parliament about the future of the squad with Police Minister Mark Ryan stating in response it was an operational matter for Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll.
Mr Ryan later issued a media statement refuting Mr Weir’s question but local state MP for Southern Downs James Lister says he is not convinced about the government’s response.
In his parliamentary answer Mr Ryan said “when it comes to the deployment of resources across the state, we do not interfere in that process”.
“It is a decision for the commissioner, as it should be.
“Politicians should not interfere in that decision-making process and we support the commissioner in her independence when it comes to the allocation of those resources, but we also support her with record police investment and record police numbers.”
“I remember watching in amazement as the Police Minister Mr Ryan refused to confirm in parliament that our police rural crime squads won’t be disbanded,” Mr Lister said of the exchange in parliament last week.
“Passing the buck to his Police Commissioner for such decisions is a new low in ministerial accountability.
“He can’t palm responsibility off to the Police Commissioner because it is not an operational matter.
“Whether our police rural crime squads live or die is absolutely the minister’s responsibility, and it was a shameful cop-out for him to say otherwise.
“Any minister worthy of the title should be ashamed to have advised parliament that he’s not responsible for such decisions.
“If the Police Minister directs that these important police rural crime squads are to be kept, the Police Commissioner will comply with that direction.
“I smell a rat, but I’m not surprised.
“Labor has been taking the stick to farmers and the bush for the last six years, so the disbandment of our police rural crime squads would be true to form.
In his later media statement Mr Ryan said the Queensland Police Service’s Major and Organised Crime Squad (Rural) “plays a vital role enforcing the law in rural areas.
“This will not change.
“Claims to the contrary are simply wrong.
“We have a very important investment in Major and Organised Crime Squads (Rural), and they are located right across the state in regional areas, keeping those communities safe and investigating those crimes which are unique to rural and regional Queensland.
“MOCS (Rural) is a very important part of policing in Queensland.
“Those specialist teams will be staying right where they are, serving rural Queensland communities.
“If anyone doubts that, they can ask the Police Commissioner.
“Commissioner Carroll is adamant these specialist rural teams will stay where they are.
“The work the members of these teams do is very specialised and they are experts in their field.
“It is simply a nonsense for anyone to suggest that their invaluable work will not continue.”