Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 April 2005 2005) . . Page.. 1465 ..
effective police numbers—by reading statistics of so-called achievements in an annual report? Important as that may be, it is not the fundamental benchmark measure.
Let us look at these police numbers. The national average was 289 police per 100,000 people. Canberra had just 251 per 100,000 in 2003-04. In 1997-98 we had the highest number of police per capita. In 1979-80 there were 655 AFP officers and now, 25 years later, we have 633 sworn police officers—with a much larger population.
The minister’s argument in the annual report hearings—that crime spending per person of almost $30 behind the national average of $80 is because the ACT figures do not include overheads—does not hold water. The Productivity Commission’s report into government services would have made that clear in a footnote to the comparison with other states and territories as to the reason why there was such a huge difference. So this is just a lame attempt by Mr Hargreaves to justify the shortfall in funding. On police numbers, Mr Hargreaves has said:
… although the ACT’s police numbers were down on the Australian average, that was because the community was different to those in other states … it’s what we do, not how many are doing it.
But that is the point: it is what they do not do, so it must be a problem of how many are, or are not, doing it. There are not enough doing it, so they cannot do enough. The fact that the ACT government will not come clean on exactly how many police effectively we currently have in the ACT means they are obviously embarrassed by the low numbers and do not want us to disclose them. How many police are on sick leave? How many police are on rotation overseas? How many police effectively do we have in our police station teams? How many police are standing by their desks on any given day? I bet you that we have got a decline in effective strength. The government is deliberately misrepresenting the facts to the community. The government is obfuscating. That is the only conclusion that I and the community can draw when the government continually evades the question of a comprehensive audit of police strengths, effective strengths, and those related factors that I outlined earlier.
Earlier, I focused on the lower level crime. Let me just turn quickly to the level of serious crime here in the ACT and what that means. Let me just go through about 10 robberies and six other activities that all occurred in the last three weeks: bag snatch at knifepoint in Civic; Oaks Estate community room burgled; indecent exposure in Commonwealth Park; armed hold-up by three offenders at knifepoint at West Belconnen Leagues Club; the Civic barrow convenience store robbed at knifepoint; armed robbery at Chisholm BP service station; smash and grab at Charnwood; kidnapping at Belconnen car park; smash and grab robbery at Scullin supermarket; three people assaulted and robbed two teenagers at Garema Place; armed robbery at Mawson pizza store; ram-raids at supermarkets in Higgins and Palmerston; two men, armed with knives, hold up Chisholm service station—again, all in the space of three weeks; Kambah video store robbed at knifepoint; aggravated burglary at two supermarkets, Tempo in Palmerston and Kaleen takeaway; and a tourist robbed at knifepoint in Braddon.
That is, in the last three weeks, a total of 10 armed robberies, six ram-raids and burglaries of shops, on top of a raft of burglaries of community and commercial premises, indecent exposures, kidnappings and assault. That all took place in three