BALLARAT has been labelled the least safe regional town for paramedics, with police presence necessary at almost 50 hot spots.Opposition spokesman for health David Davis said Freedom of Information documents revealed that in just five months to May 2010, 49 locations in Ballarat were registered as "locations of interest" by Ambulance Victoria, where police may be required to attend to protect paramedics.The top three locations on the list include Ballarat; Greater Geelong, with 43 locations identified; and Greater Bendigo, with 26.Mr Davis has blamed Premier John Brumby's "soft-on-crime approach" for the increase in violence and assaults on paramedics."John Brumby has failed to provide tough sentencing for those who attack our emergency services workers," he said."Everyone has the right to feel safe in the workplace, and paramedics should not fear violence or attacks while helping people in need."However the number of no-go zones in Victoria added to the list has actually decreased since 2008.In 2008 there were 488 areas added to the list, this dropped in 2009 to 153, and this year there were only 38 new additions.Ballarat East MP Geoff Howard hit back at Mr Davis's claims, arguing it was merely criticism of the government while offering nothing by way of a solution.Mr Howard said he wanted to make it clear that violence against paramedics was something that the government took very seriously."In an election campaign people deserve to learn of the commitments and policies of each party," he said. "In the absence of these the Liberals offer nothing but diversions."Our paramedics do a great job for the community and they should be offered as much protection as possible so they can concentrate on saving lives."The Brumby government introduced tough laws to ensure paramedics are able to carry out their work free of interference, with any person who attacks or harasses a paramedic facing a fine of up to $6000 and six months jail. This is double the penalty."
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