Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 April 2021) . . Page.. 941 ..
“If the savings of some $15.3 million can’t be achieved from trimming the cost of administering and equipping ACT Policing then the very real fear is that police numbers may suffer.”
“It’s our concern that the compounding effect of those savings will start to bite in years three and four,” he said.
“The magnitude of that dollar saving equates roughly to about 40 to 45 staff.”
In response, in that article back in 2013, I stated that I believed police numbers would be cut because of budget savings. That is what has happened. As we talked about yesterday, when you look at the Report on Government Services from the Productivity Commission, you see that we have 10 fewer police—frontline operational sworn officers—than we did at that time. In 2012 we had 706; we now have 696, according to the RoGS data. That is also a per capita decrease, because we have had population growth. Per capita it has gone from 231 down to 206 per 100,000.
Back in 2013 the Australian Federal Police Association and the opposition said, “If you implement these cuts, then, as they flow through in the years to come, that is going to mean a reduction in police.” We see in both real numbers and per capita numbers that the decisions of this government, not just in this budget but in successive budgets, have led to a cut in our frontline police officers.
I refer to an article from the Canberra Times headed “Fears local police positions will go as funding cuts begin to bite”:
The ACT government has been urged to reinstate $15 million in savings to the territory’s police force, amid growing fears that positions will be cut in coming months.
The $15.36 million is being stripped from ACT Policing’s budget over four years from 2013-14.
The decisions that were made back then, supported by Mr Gentleman and his colleagues in the Labor Party and the Greens, are reverberating. They are reverberating to the point where we now have a police force that is simply stretched too thin.
Yesterday I went through some of the detail of what that means to police officers on the ground. What they and their association are saying is that they are at breaking point. They do not have enough resources to get on and do their job.
We have seen the effect on clearance rates. Crime clearance rates for a whole bunch of really serious offences are the lowest in the country, at the 30-day mark for things like sexual assault and other forms of assault—armed robbery and unarmed robbery. They are the lowest clearance rates in Australia.