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We were also impressed by many of the benefits that we heard of continuing to use the Australian Federal Police as the police force for this Territory. It is a national and international force. Officers who spend the bulk of their career as community police officers in this Territory may, through being members of the Australian Federal Police, spend some of their careers in national policing operations in a large Australian city and so get an insight into policing a large urban area. They may spend time in a diplomatic mission abroad. They may spend time on international narcotics or terrorism matters. They may spend time on United Nations peacekeeping operations. In recent years it has been the Australian Federal Police and this region that have really supplied the bulk of police officers engaged in those United Nations activities. That is a real benefit to this Territory, because those officers come back with a much more rounded experience in policing. Mr Speaker, I commend the report to the Assembly.
MR OSBORNE (11.36): I will be brief. I would like to back up what Mr Connolly said and thank him and Mr Kaine for their support and help during this inquiry. I also thank the staff. I hope that we can fast-track this matter and have our own Police Commissioner in the not too distant future.
MR KAINE (11.36): Mr Speaker, I confirm that I agree without qualification with the recommendations that are made in this report, but I want to make the point that, although the committee in its public hearings heard evidence on a number of issues that relate to the activities of the ACT Region of the Australian Federal Police, the gut issue, and the one that we really were convened to look at, was the question of who runs the ACT police force. Whatever you call it and whatever its organisational arrangements, the ACT Region of the Australian Federal Police is in fact the ACT police force. There is no question in my mind, and there was no question in the minds of most people who put evidence to the committee, that, that being the case, then that organisation has to be responsive to this parliament and to the needs of this community. Our concern was: How do we ensure that that is the case? I believe that the appointment of a commissioner to run the ACT police force, in whatever form it takes, is the way to achieve that. I am not being critical of the way that the Australian Federal Police has provided policing for this Territory up until now. Although ACT police officers have an insignia on their shoulders that says that they are members of the Australian Federal Police, there is little doubt in their minds as to what their job is. They are aware that their job is to serve this community. I believe that they do that to the best of their ability.
If there is a difference of opinion at the policy level between the Federal Parliament and this one as to what the police force is to do, at the moment the Federal Parliament will prevail, and the interests of this community may not be best served by that. I give an example. The committee did not look at this and I have not looked at this, and I do not know whether what was done was good or bad; but some of the structural reforms that have taken place in the Australian Federal Police recently, such as the disestablishment of certain functions that were carried on, may have been in the best interest of the ACT community or may not have been. I do not know, and I doubt whether anybody else in this place knows either. The fact is, however, that, if there is to be organisational change