By Gary Warner
Agreement has been reached, at least for the present, between the WA Police Union and the State Government over regional incentives and attraction payments.
Known as the Liberals' pre election promise 'RWA Incentives & Retention', they are paid to encourage officers to accept postings to regional and remote areas.
RWA Police currently receive a locality allowance which has been not reviewed for several years. Current ëlocality allowancesí range from $1500 per annum for stations in the Mid West Gascoyne Policing District such as Geraldton, Northampton or Meekatharra, to $3000 for such stations as Mullewa, Yalgoo or Morawa.
Significantly higher allowances were sought in a ìLocalities Allowance Proposalî by the Police Union for most of Regional WA.
A new incentive scheme, funded by Royalties for Regions to the tune of $10.5 million over four years, sees the Geraldton attraction payment set at to $4000, while in some inland locations (without fully subsidised housing) the attraction payment will be as much as $7000.
Non-coastal stations will also benefit from what is termed a 'retention payment' for officers who remain at a remote posting for a minimum of 3.5 years, ranging from $2000 to as much as $12,250.
Geraldton MLA Ian Blayney welcomed the better attraction and retention incentives for police officers in regional communities, saying it was part of the Liberal-National Governmentís continued investment in regional WA.
'The State Government will increase spending on WA Police by $56.4 million in 2013/14 with an unprecedented $1.2 billion funding for WA police over the same period,' said Mr Blayney.
Also welcoming the new scheme was the WA Police Union's director for the Central Regional, Sergeant Michael Gill, who said it went 'some way' towards rectifying an overdue discrepancy in pay for country police. Regional complexities and the cost of living deters police officers from moving to Regional WA (RWA), the financial incentives will go some way toward addressing this issue.
However, he warned that the new scheme did not eliminate the issue of locality allowances the union had been seeking.
"This is basically an edited version of what we sought, which for example would see Geraldton classed as a station of Moderate Regional Complexity," said Sgt Gill.
"That would add a location allowance of $4500 per annum, plus $2250 for the first dependant and $1125 for the second dependant.
"Our industrial agreement expires in June next year and I have no doubt the WA Police Union will be pushing for the upgraded locality allowance then."