The federal government has placed too much emphasis on fighting terrorism with an iron fist rather than making a real difference on the ground, the state's new Police Minister and Deputy Premier said.
Taking aim at the federal government for what he saw as an ASIO-led approach to counter-terrorism, Troy Grant has indicated he wants to invest more in prevention and community programs that have been allowed to lapse.
His call for more community-led initiatives came as the federal government confirmed it had not yet allocated a single dollar from its community grants program for deradicalisation.
In an interview with Fairfax Media a week after his appointment as Minister for Police, Mr Grant also indicated that he has not ruled Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn out for the job of police commissioner despite allegations she unjustifiably bugged Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas, fuelling a decade-long war in the force's top echelons.
One of the first jobs for the former country cop will be to appoint a successor to Commissioner Andrew Scipione, whose contract ends in six months.
However, the member for Dubbo, who entered parliament four years ago, said the issues he was more concerned about were terrorism and the scourge of ice - and he sees room for vast improvement on both fronts.
"There's an imbalance in the investment," he said of the approach to counter-terrorism.
"When you're talking about the radicalisaton of youth, all the money is put into - particularly from funding and from the federal level - put into the ASIO end ... to combat after they're radicalised.
"Where is the investment at the front end to stop them being radicalised? I think that's an example of how we need to shift the investment focus."
He signalled greater investment in using police for community cohesiveness, saying the amount of money being spent on prevention was minuscule despite huge returns.
"One of my greatest frustrations is that there are a lot of programs implemented to address a need over the years but they start [and] stop," he said.
"So they build up expectations and then the need becomes less apparent so they just stop and the funding cuts off and ... the problem rises again."
"There's always some good programs being run…. we just need to give those programs greater longevity."
A spokesman for federal Attorney-General George Brandis confirmed that $1 million in grants money for community programs to fight extremism had not yet been allocated.
The money, which was announced in August as part of a $14 million community package, is in addition to at least $600 million for security agencies and $545 million for the Department of Social Services.
Mr Grant also said a bugging scandal engulfing Commissioner Scipione and deputy commissioners Burn and Kaldas had not affected the professionalism of all three and would not be factored in when deciding the next commissioner.
"They've all performed exceptionally well and been able to get on with the job whilst this has been a burning issue for them on a private level," he said.
His view is at odds with that of a recent parliamentary committee that expressed support for Mr Kaldas, saying he should never have been monitored by Ms Burn's internal affairs team in the early 2000s and Mr Scipione should apologise to him.
Mr Grant was a police officer for 22 years until he entered parliament in 2011. His peers have put his rapid rise down to his straight-shooting nature and authenticity.
He was glassed in the head while breaking up a brawl in a Brewarrina pub and bears a scar on his right hand from intervening in a domestic violence incident.
- Via smh.com.au