Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 861 ..
number of police, and decreases in those frontline officers and in per capita spending. And the AFPA says, “Our members are tired, worn out and are getting sick of having to do overtime just to make sure there are enough officers on duty. They will often work overtime or extended hours when they really should be looking after their own physical and mental wellbeing and taking some time away from the job.”
What does this mean, then, in terms of the ability to investigate and resolve matters? There is the crime reporting, but when crimes are reported and investigated what is happening? I refer again to the RoGS. It has measures for investigations finalised at the 30-day mark—what is happening with reports of crimes and where they are at. We have the lowest in country on sexual assault, armed robbery, unarmed robbery, unlawful entry with intent, motor vehicle theft and other theft. Across the board, on the indicators reported on by the Productivity Commission, we are way behind other jurisdictions in terms of their clearance rates.
The AFPA, in response to this, says that it is not an indication of poor policing. I agree with them. It is not. I commend our police; I think they do a fantastic job. There are just not enough of them and they are stretched way too thinly. As the AFPA said, it is an indication of overstretched and overworked officers. That is absolutely the case.
This matter has been debated in this place for some time. I was the shadow police minister when those police cuts were made. We called on them to be restored, and the AFPA then made the point that this would have a negative impact in terms of their members. I will quote from the Age. It probably was the Canberra Times but under the Fairfax banner. The headline from 2015 was: “ACT’s frontline police officers under pressure from spending cuts”. It said:
The federal police union has warned officers in the ACT have been stretched as job losses and ongoing spending cuts begin to take a toll on front-line employees.
Mrs Jones was working, in the previous term, as a strong advocate, calling for more police numbers and making sure that our police facilities in places like Gungahlin—we have no police station in Molonglo Valley—are addressed. This is not a new issue. Mr Gentleman says, “This is just tired.” He thinks that the job of the opposition is to raise issues, and then if the government does not respond we should just forget about it. Let me assure Mr Gentleman, through you Mr Assistant Speaker, that we will not relent. The opposition will continue to work with the community, with Donna and with Tom. We will continue to work with the Australian Federal Police Association and its members to make sure that the community is safe and to make sure that our police officers are safe—that they are not overworked and are not overstressed.
I will again quote from the Australian Federal Police Association. This morning Mr Shirley on ABC radio said:
A couple of times Mr Hanson said the AFPA Association is clear it does not have enough police, that your flock are burnt out and that some people are leaving. Is he right or is he wrong?
As you can imagine, I waited for the answer in trepidation. But, no, the answer from the president of the AFPA was: