Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 839 ..
ACT has fewer sworn operational staff now than it did nearly a decade ago. The Australian Federal Police Association has said, in response to low staffing issues, “This concerns us greatly, especially on the welfare front. It is the members on the ground that suffer as a result. It is their physical and mental wellbeing that is impacted by having to do more work with less resources and colleagues. Police officers are constantly asked to do more with less, and police officers are breaking as a result.” Minister, are the Australian Federal Police Association wrong when they say that their members are suffering because of low police numbers?
MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Mr Hanson for the question. I congratulate AFPA for its advocacy for ACT police and the hard work it does across the territory. It is this government’s work that is putting more investment into police than ever before—$33.9 million in the last budget for the PSM model with 60 new police across the territory. The Canberra Liberals did not vote for that. They voted against it. They called a division.
Mr Hanson: Madam Speaker, I have a point of order that goes to relevance. The question was very clear—whether the AFPA is wrong or right when it says its members are suffering because of low police numbers.
MADAM SPEAKER: Also in your question you were asking about numbers. The minister’s answer is in order. As you know, I cannot direct the minister to provide you with a yes or no answer.
MR GENTLEMAN: There are more than 923 FTE in ACT Policing as we speak. The numbers that Mr Hanson quotes are those that were counted previously of SRG and the forensics unit, which sit under the AFP nationally. Those do not sit under ACT Policing. This is where the muddy waters go, when those opposite try to confuse members of the public in particular about the numbers that had previously been in the AFP.
Each year we have invested more and more into ACT Policing and the results speak for themselves. Our hardworking police are doing more across the territory than ever before. And, yes, they are hardworking; they do deserve some relief. They are taking leave at the moment, after the COVID-19 crisis, which I am pleased to see. And there is a bit of overtime to ensure that those officers can take that leave.
MR HANSON: Minister, what risk is being placed on the physical and mental wellbeing of police by their having to do more work with fewer resources and colleagues?
MR GENTLEMAN: There are not fewer resources. As I have just said to the chamber and publicly, we have invested more into ACT Policing than ever before. There are more resources to support them than ever before. Of course, we do take into account the wellbeing of our hardworking police, and that is why we have strategies and wellbeing systems in place to support them on the ground.
MR MILLIGAN: Minister, is the Australian Federal Police Association wrong when they say that police officers are breaking because they are constantly being asked to do more with less?