Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 4 Hansard (3 May) . . Page.. 1115..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
AFP in relation to this initiative. Indeed, the first I was aware of any detail of this proposal was when the commissioner made his comments this morning.
Clearly, the provision of black boxes is a matter of considerable interest to the government and the community, given the tragic death of Ms Clea Rose late last year. In these circumstances, I would have expected that the government would have been made aware of this proposal, given that the boxes will be, apparently, installed in police vehicles that the ACT community pays for, which are driven by officers that the ACT community pays for and which provide police services that the ACT community pays for and for which I am publicly accountable. I can reassure members, however, that I have raised these concerns today with the Chief Police Officer and sought her reassurances on these matters.
Equally, the comments of the commissioner today in relation to police numbers are, in the government's view, inappropriate. The commissioner has indicated today that he considers himself to be a public servant, not a politician—and he is quite right. He is not a politician; he is a public servant. However, I am sure we would all understand that the role of a public servant is to advise the government on the options available to it, to do so in a full and frank manner and to allow the government to consider the most appropriate course of action. It is not the role of any public servant to publicly advocate their preferred outcome ahead of a government decision. Unfortunately, in indicating his preference for the level of police officers available to the ACT, he has pre-empted the decisions of the government, and in my view this is outside his role as commissioner.
I can inform members that I have indicated to the Chief Police Officer, as late as Monday this week, that the government wants more advice from the AFP on the potential level of police resources available in the ACT. This issue is being closely considered by the government, having regard to the joint study on ACT Policing and the overall budget position. The government has not concluded its considerations on the matters and they are still subject to discussion in budget cabinet.
I hope that today I have spelt out clearly the government's approach and expectations on these matters. I can reassure members that I have today, on behalf of the community, reasserted with the Chief Police Officer the government's expectations of ACT Policing and have sought also to raise these matters with the commissioner. I would like to reaffirm my desire, and the desire of the government, to work cooperatively and openly with the Australian Federal Police in delivering police services to the Canberra community.
MR STEFANIAK: My question is to the Minister for Health. I offer my congratulations—perhaps it should be commiserations—to the minister on her new portfolio.
Minister, the government has received advice that substantial savings have to be made in the health budget if the parlous financial situation facing the ACT is to be tackled effectively. Minister, what action are you taking to achieve savings of the order of $200 million in the out years in the health portfolio that have been deemed necessary to contribute to reducing the overall estimated deficit in the ACT budget?