Page 5764 - Week 18 - Tuesday, 10 December 1991

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President Bush Visit - Police Costs

MR STEFANIAK: My question is addressed to Mr Connolly in his capacity as Minister for police. He does look like John Cleese, actually, when he leans on his chair and answers a question. My question relates to the forthcoming visit of President Bush and Senator Tate's - or Senator Tate's office's - apparent insistence that the ACT is going to be asked to foot the costs of that particular visit, in terms of the supplying of our police. Will the Minister please advise whether, in fact, the ACT is going to be up for some money in relation to providing police as security for President Bush's visit in Canberra? Secondly, will the Minister also confirm that, regardless of what happens in relation to the cost of President Bush's visit in the ACT, the police operational capacity, in terms of providing their service to the ACT community, will not be further diminished by any costs that we might have to bear as a result of that visit?

MR CONNOLLY: Certainly, the ACT Government is concerned that the ordinary community policing function does not suffer because of things like either the Aidex demonstrations or the Bush visit. The Bush visit is purely a national visit. President Bush is a guest of the national government. He is in Canberra to meet with the Governor-General and the Prime Minister and, I think, to address a joint meeting of the Federal Parliament. No part of his itinerary involves a visit to the ACT. He is not our guest; he is the Federal Government's guest. I would expect the Federal Government to absorb some of the cost, or the additional cost, of his being here.

I would expect that, while he is in town, a lot of AFP members will be directed to duties involving his visit and, to the extent that they are performing their ordinary functions and overtime is not involved, that does not cause any problem. I expect that we will have to make that degree of contribution. But, to the extent that other AFP members come to Canberra from other AFP regional commands and to the extent that there is extensive overtime work, I would expect that the Federal Government ought to bear that cost, as Mr Bush is the Federal Government's guest.

I would remind the house that the Australian Capital Territory's agreement with the Commonwealth - the so-called policing contract - basically says that we provide a set sum of money for policing services, and the sum of money this year is $53.4m. For $53.4m we get the service and we, in effect, write the Commonwealth a cheque on a monthly basis. If there are additional costs, the Commonwealth effectively has to bear them. If it wants more, it will have to come and seek more from us, and I can assure Senator Tate - as I have publicly - that we would not be paying any more than the $53.4m that we are contracted to pay.

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