Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 8 Hansard (30 August) . . Page.. 2427..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
To be eligible, a woman in the ACT would need to have been caring for a dependent child of primary school age or younger for two years or more, and a woman must not have worked for more than four months over the previous two years with the intention of returning to paid work within the next 12 months. The age criteria will not apply if a woman has a dependent child with a disability. These grants will be administered through the Women's Information and Referral Centre and it is hoped that the grants program will be up and in place in time for the 2008 academic year.
This is a new and exciting program for the ACT. We will be monitoring it closely to make sure that it is meeting the needs of women and their families. In light of the current skills shortage, it is essential that we look at ways of supporting women to re-enter the workforce and providing them with the support that they need.
MS PORTER: My question is to the minister for police. Can the minister update the Assembly on the progress of the implementation of the additional police officers funded by this government.
MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Porter for the question and for her interest. I note her ongoing interest in matters relating to justice and community safety. On behalf of her constituents, Ms Porter writes to me regularly with concerns about community safety and police presence.
I am pleased to inform Ms Porter and the Assembly that the government's commitments to improve the level of police here in the ACT are starting to yield some real results. We now have an additional 40 police on the beat here in the ACT compared to 12 months ago. This brings us closer to the total of 107 extra police that this government has funded since being in office.
Compare that with the miserable record of those opposite in this regard. I can recall speaking to a former Liberal staffer during last year's budget. He advised me that they thought it was big news when they had an extra 10 police to sell as a major boost in police resources. In comparison, this government has delivered. We have significantly increased the number of police in the ACT. By the end of 2008, that total will have reached 107 extra uniformed police.
What does that mean on the ground for Canberrans? In each of our patrol districts—north and south—it means an additional car on the road 24/7 to respond to incidents in our community. We already know that the police have an excellent response time for the most serious incidents, but we have seen pressure in regard to incidents where police response is required within a number of hours—three hours, six hours, 12 hours. In those instances, the additional resources will make a real difference. It will mean that those response times should improve, and the government's expectation is that they will improve. It is a matter that I keep a close watch on through the quarterly reports that I receive from the chief police officer in relation to performance against all of the performance criteria in the contract that we have with the Australian Federal Police for the community policing activity.