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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 866 ..

This means we need to think about changing the character of the police force rather than its size. And whilst talking about size, it is important to compare meaningful measures. Comparing a city state such as the ACT with a large spread-out state such as New South Wales is flawed. It is a short distance from the Woden police station to Molonglo Valley—a lot less than the distance from Broken Hill to Wilcannia. To compare the two is not to compare apples with apples but to compare apples with durians—two very different flavours, as I am sure you would agree.

It is for these reasons that the Greens support the amendment as proposed by the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. I would like to close by also expressing the ACT Greens’ support for our police force and what they do to keep us safe. Your service is very much appreciated. Thank you.

DR PATERSON (Murrumbidgee) (3.41): I would like to thank Mr Hanson for bringing this motion to the Assembly. I support Minister Gentleman’s amendment. Mr Hanson states that the ACT has the lowest number of police per capita in Australia. This is a misrepresentation of the data; the ACT also has the smallest geographical area of any jurisdiction.

Mr Hanson: That is not a misrepresentation.

DR PATERSON: You are aware of this, Mr Hanson, as you were in the estimates hearings with me, as chair of the JACS committee, when the Chief Police Officer stated this. By bringing forward this motion Mr Hanson seems to suggest that police stations solve crime. I would like to point out that there has been a police station in Woden for 16 years, yet, as a proportion of the population, Woden Valley has a substantially higher crime incidence than Weston Creek.

However, I would like to take this conversation a step forward. January to March 2021 saw Weston Creek and Molonglo have the lowest crime rates in all of the ACT. I did some analysis of the publicly available statistics in the crime reports. Let us look at the numbers of reported offences over the last five years in Weston Creek for the first quarter of the year. The rate of offences has dropped very significantly in Weston Creek, decreasing by 39 per cent over five years. In the same time frame, the Molonglo Valley has seen a doubling of reported crime offences—from 82 offences in 2016 to 160 in 2021. However, the population of Molonglo Valley has nearly tripled in that time frame, and ultimately the number of offences is in proportion, per population, to other suburbs in Canberra and, as I noted earlier, is actually even lower than other suburbs.

Mr Hanson, you, Mrs Jones and I all live in one of the safest parts of Canberra. I argue that your long-held calls for a new police station in Molonglo are for political expediency only. Your motion calls for a police station to be built at Molonglo by the end of next year. You have been in this game long enough to know how these things work, and the impossibility of that time frame, given budget processes and planning. Your motion is disingenuous. Your constant rhetoric comes to the detriment of our community.

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