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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 11 Hansard (16 November) . . Page.. 3630..


DR FOSKEY (continuing):

about this so we could make sure this investment was a successful one. We all care that projects instigated in Canberra are successful and that money is well spent and not wasted. That is certainly the spirit in which I am contributing to the debate on the arboretum at least.

Policing-fatal accident

MR PRATT (Brindabella) (4.58): I stand here today to talk in defence of and support for our police, who have had to be confronted by yet another dreadful challenge in respect of the pursuit of an offender in which a poor old lady was killed in Callam Street the other day. I want to make a couple of comments about that. Firstly, I offer my condolences and the condolences of the opposition to the poor lady's family. Also our sympathies are with the police who were involved in that incident for the feelings they must be going through at the moment.

I will make a couple of points. Referring to the poor old police, we have seen a number of incidents which we have talked about here. The opposition has questioned the circumstances of a number of incidents over the last 18 months. Clearly, in the case of the pursuit of an offender, the police are damned if they do and damned if they do not in the eyes of the public. Of course, the police have to make a judgment call and sometimes it has to be a split decision judgment.

We cannot even comment, and nor should we, about what we think might have happened or did not happen. These are matters which must run the full course of an appropriate police investigation and perhaps a coronial inquest, but we can talk about some of the politics around this. I would make a couple of points relative to that. I was dismayed at the way the ABC yesterday in their Afternoon Show, and also the Canberra Times editorial of yesterday, made some quite critical comments and statements on ACT Policing around the circumstances of this particular incident.

I do not know that the editor of the Canberra Times and the journalist on the ABC yesterday are armchair admirals and suddenly blessed experts who can make comments about what might have happened, what did not happen and the pros, cons and wisdom of pursuits or no pursuits; whereas our police, who are qualified and have been trained in these areas over many years, are indeed the experts who have to make the judgment calls.

If in the normal chain of command something has gone wrong, then it is up to ACT Policing and the coroner to make comments and to make adjustments if they think that is necessary. On the face of it, I do not see why anything would be necessary, but that is only a preliminary assessment by me. I am not in a position to assess anything, really, at this stage.

You get a damn young fool who has either stolen a car or shoplifted somewhere and has sped away from the police. If they had not sped away from the police and if they had not driven through a red light, the poor old lady would not be dead. That is often forgotten. There is a bit of a track record here, too, with a number of offenders that have been involved in some of these incidents over the last couple of years. Some of them have quite long offence records.


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