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Members will also be aware that the Standing Committee on Legal Affairs is conducting an inquiry into future policing arrangements for the ACT. I assume that we will hear about that later this afternoon. The outcome of that inquiry, and in particular its focus on accountability arrangements, including the possible creation of a statutory office of Commissioner of Police for the ACT, will be important in determining future senior staffing arrangements in the AFP ACT region.

The new arrangements will enable Commissioner Palmer to have a more direct personal involvement in both of these reviews and ensure that the focus on the ACT's priorities for community policing is consistent with the AFP's overall goals and objectives. It is also important, as we move towards the end of the decade, that policing arrangements recognise the increasing number of interstate and international visitors to the ACT. There is a need to ensure that the interests of the ACT community and of the Commonwealth and the national capital are protected. ACT policing is at an important crossroads and the interim arrangements will ensure that much of the work which is being done to enhance police services in the ACT will continue. The arrangements will also provide for a high level of policy input into deliberations on the future of ACT policing.

As Police Minister, I welcome Commissioner Palmer's direct involvement in ACT policing. I know from discussions I have had with him that he shares the Government's belief that there is a need to increase police presence on our streets and to foster a close relationship with the community. We are all committed to a high standard of police service in the ACT. These interim arrangements will provide us with the best possible advice in achieving that standard and will assist us to properly consider the long-term arrangements for ACT policing.

In making these remarks, Mr Speaker, I should commend the work of the retiring Chief Police Officer, Assistant Commissioner Peter Dawson - work which has stretched over a period of years; only recently as Chief Police Officer, but for many years before that as a police officer serving in the ACT region. I am sure that his good work will be picked up by Commissioner Palmer. I commend these new arrangements to the Assembly. I present a copy of this statement, and I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

MR CONNOLLY (4.42): The Opposition welcomes this statement and is committed to working, as far as possible, in a bipartisan or, indeed, non-partisan manner in relation to the policing arrangements. They are very important. The Assembly’s Standing Committee on Legal Affairs, which includes Mr Osborne and Mr Kaine, is looking at long-term future arrangements.

This statement provides an opportunity, which I cannot let pass, for expressing in this forum a tribute to the work that Peter Dawson provided to the people of the ACT over many years. The period of his service as Chief Police Officer was most of the period that I had the privilege to be the Minister responsible for police in the ACT. For that reason I think it is appropriate that I place on record my appreciation of Peter Dawson's service.

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