Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 5 Hansard (10 May) . . Page.. 1503..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
are there. We know that the joint study by ACT Policing and the Department of Justice and Community Safety is there. It was done seven or eight months ago. It has been sitting in a minister's tray for at least seven months. So this ridiculous notion that somehow it is now cabinet-in-confidence and is part of the budget process is just ridiculous.
Commander Newton's time and motion study is certainly not cabinet-in-confidence. It was done as an internal working document of the AFP. How you can sit on that and not release that is beyond me. I suspect that is not being released because the reasonable analysis done by a very competent police officer in Commander Newton is that the number required to deal with the specifics of the ACT, its age profile, the complexity of the job and the variation and changes in crime in the ACT, is 186 police officers. It has been justified by time and motion studies, numbers and the required capability to do the job properly.
It is interesting that somehow this is portrayed as some sort of shift in the debate. "At the 2004 election, Mr Pratt, what did you promise in terms of police officers? National average, 100 extra officers."This is not something we have shifted from; this is something we have held dear for a long time; and this is something that we would like you to prove why we should not have it. If you reckon there is a shift in the debate, Mr Corbell, shift the debate back by being honest, being open and being accountable, as was promised in the lead-up to the 2001 election and certainly held dear by the government since. Release these reports.
It is a ludicrous notion to say that these were prepared for cabinet. They were not prepared for cabinet. They were prepared to find out what we needed to do the job properly. One was done by the police themselves; the other one was done as a joint study. It is a reasonable motion; it is a reasonable thing to ask for. You say you want community involvement; you say you want to have reasonable discussions. Prove it; table the reports.
MR PRATT (Brindabella) (5.33), in reply: Let me respond to a couple of things said here. The first is the question of police numbers coming from the minister. The police numbers issue is extremely important because it reflects capability—the capability that we on this side of the house want to see reviewed. We want to see it reviewed quickly.
The 2004-05 ACT Policing annual report, which the minister approved, shows that the number of sworn police has dropped to a five-year low of 571 out of a total of 791 police. Yet, with the release of the 2006 Productivity Commission report into government services, the minister gloated about the figures that were published in the report which showed that in 2004-05 the ACT had 606 sworn officers out of a total of 802. That is not much of a difference, is it?
Even if we accept that, by the way, as part of an agreed debating framework, to use the minister's preferred figure of 110 versus my 130 per 100,000 head of population, the thrust of our argument does not change, because the difference is miniscule. The thrust of the argument—the concern about capability, the concern about what are we doing in overstretching our own police force—does not change.