NSW Cabinet reshuffle: Police surprised by ministry split, Labor says counter-terrorism separation 'farcical'

Jessica Kidd
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian's decision to create a separate portfolio for counter-terrorism has taken the state's police force by surprise, sources have told the ABC.
Nationals MP Troy Grant has retained the police portfolio in the cabinet re-shuffle and has gained Emergency Services, but Liberal MP David Elliott has been made the state's first Minister for Counter-Terrorism.
The new ministry has been met with confusion by many in the rank and file who said they were unsure of how it would affect their day-to-day jobs or who they should report to on matters of counter-terrorism.
One senior officer, who asked not to be named, said the new ministry would simply add an extra layer of bureaucracy.
"In a perfect world [the two ministries] would sit in the one portfolio," the officer said.
"There would have to be a very good working relationship between Minister Grant and Minister Elliott for it to work."
Mr Elliott's new ministry will provide strategic direction for counter-terrorism across a number of portfolios such as transport and education, and will include coordinating the State Government's Counter-Terrorism and Security policies.
"I am delighted with the promotion to the new Counter-Terrorism portfolio and I accept that it is a significant responsibility," Mr Elliott said.
"Over the coming weeks I will be meeting to coordinate all stakeholders to ensure the people of NSW can sleep soundly in the knowledge that we are the best prepared for any contingency as we can be."
New ministry is a farcical 'factional deal', says Opposition
Opposition Leader Luke Foley criticised the new ministry as a "farce" and said it was the result of factional deals between the Liberals and the Nationals.
"It's the height of irresponsibility," Mr Foley said.
"The Nationals wanted their bloke to stay in Police, the right wing of the Liberals wanted their bloke to go into Police, so the Premier cuts it in half, splits the Police Minister's job.
"So now Commissioner Scipione and our senior police officers have to report not to one minister but to two."
Double ministry a distraction from Commissioner handover
It is understood neither the Police Association of NSW nor many senior police officers knew of the decision to separate Counter-Terrorism from the Police Ministry until the new Premier announced it on Sunday.
Association president Scott Weber says it is not yet clear exactly what responsibilities the new Counter-Terrorism Minister will have, but says good communication will be key.
"We look forward to having a chat with the Government [because] we don't know what the portfolio entails," Mr Weber said.
"It is critical that anything that involves counter-terrorism has a clear line of communication because just one second out can cost someone their life."
The Police Association is also concerned the new ministry will detract from what it believes is the real problem plaguing the police force — finding a replacement for Commissioner Andrew Scipione.

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