What is it?
The Victorian State Government has recently confirmed it will make good on its pre-election promise of introducing 940 security guards to metropolitan railway stations around Melbourne over the next three years. The guards will be trained in a similar (through controversially less intensive) way to police, given the power to search and arrest suspicious individuals, and armed with semi-automatic weapons.
Speaking on ABC Radio to Jon Faine this morning, Deputy Premier Peter Ryan asserted the guards will help the government achieve its aim to “do everything in its power to make Melbourne’s public transport network safe”.
What do we think?
Deputy Premier Ryan hopes the security guards will stop violence getting out of hand at train stations and, somewhat naively, that their presence will even prevent such behaviour. Yet again, the State Government is taking a bandaid approach to an arterial bleed, addressing the symptoms rather than their underlying cause.
In our opinion, violence, abuse and prolific tagging occurs within the public transport network because it is poorly run and maintained. These aggressive actions are the visible half of deep-seated disrespect for the network, and would not occur were it reliably run, brightly lit and, most importantly, well patronised. Indeed, we are reminded of the elevated train network in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, clean and full of passengers when Bruce Wayne is a boy and Gotham City is righteous, then fallen into a neglected state of disrepair when he is a man, returned from his self-enforced exile to cure the city of its evil.
Does the freshly minted State Government really wish to do everything in its power to make Melbourne’s public transport network safe? If so, it would do well to ditch the rent-a-cops and aim for a truly heroic outcome: make the network one of which Melburnians can be proud.
I certainly agree that this is a bandaid approach but I think the concerning aspect is how dangerous a bandaid it is. The training the security officers have received is apparently weapons training – I would have thought an appreciation of the law and peaceful conflict resolution might have been more appropriate than handing out guns!
You make a valid point, Alyson, one clearly shared by Jon Faine in his repeated badgering of the Deputy Premier. The security guards receive 10 weeks of training, compared to a police officer’s 22 – second-rate cops, Faine called them. We imagine that this move is only going to create additional violence and further alienate the general public from using public transport.