Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 5 Hansard (10 May) . . Page.. 1496..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
between local communities and police can aid law enforcement agencies in gaining more knowledge of resident activity and may provide vital intelligence relating to potential terrorist threats, as well as, of course, other information about more pedestrian crimes. It is about being in touch with and trusted by the local community and knowing what is going on outside the confines of a squad car.
Finally, we must acknowledge that ACT Policing is a training ground for national and international AFP work. Yet the ACT government does not receive any recompense from the Australia government for supplying such a service. Indeed, we are paying for it. I would be interested to know to what degree this impacts on the quality of services that the ACT government is purchasing from the AFP and whether or not we are receiving value for money.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (5.06): Mr Speaker, initially I will make a few comments on what was said in this debate by Mr Corbell and Dr Foskey. Mr Corbell started bleating that Mr Pratt's comments were sensationalist and represented some sort of change of attitude in terms of what he thought was a bipartisan approach. Mr Pratt's comments are very timely and I commend him for his interest in the problems, such as lack of numbers, facing ACT Policing. It is clearly the job of an opposition to highlight these issues.
Probably the most fundamental duty of any government is to look after the safety of its citizens, and at a territory level that means having a well-resourced and capable police force. Despite the significant problems faced by ACT Policing, we are very lucky in the territory to have a bunch of very dedicated men and women who operate at a very high standard under very difficult and trying conditions.
It is interesting to note, going around the community, that whilst people are very frustrated by a lack of police attendance—the difficulties police have in attending, the time taken to attend, and sometimes police never attending—it is pretty rare for their feelings to be vented on the police. I think people appreciate that the police are under-resourced. Those are some of the main comments I get in respect of policing in the territory.
It is has been very depressing over the last two or three years especially to hear just how difficult it is for police to attend on time and how often the police simply appear to be snowed under. Those are some of the main criticisms I get in relation to policing and police numbers in the ACT. That is a real problem and ultimately it is up to the ACT government to ensure that we have sufficient numbers through the police agreement. We pay to get the number of police that the territory government wants and it is quite clear to me that we do not have enough police.
Mr Corbell mentioned the figure of 110. He seemed to think that that was just sworn officers. It is unsworn ones as well. But I think it is quite clear we are well under the national average and even 110 sworn officers will not get us up to the national average. I am sure we would be happy if the government provided another 110 sworn officers. This is crucially important.
I remind the minister that visibility is a very important factor. The minister talked about the ACT being a city state, and yes it is a city state. I drive around the ACT a lot and I