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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 1889 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

Whilst the idea of an ACT police commissioner has considerable merit and no doubt will be taken further, I do not think the dissolution of the police portfolio would be a good thing. It is clearly not a mere popgun appointment, by any stretch of the imagination. It is a very serious ministerial responsibility which occupies a considerable amount of my colleague's time. It is a very important, crucial role in the ACT. One of the first duties of any government is the protection of its citizens. At a local level that means having an efficient and effective police force, which we are blessed with here. An efficient and effective police force can operate only with the support of the population and the support of the Assembly. It is clearly important that it have the support of a local Minister, as it does here. I do not think the Chief Minister really should give serious consideration to Mr Osborne's proposal. I think it is unfounded. Nevertheless, I respect Mr Osborne's very strong support for the police, and long may you continue to support them, Mr Osborne.

MR CONNOLLY (3.44): I guess that Mr Osborne had better keep supporting the police, because it certainly does not appear as though the Government is doing a great deal in relation to police matters in this Territory. I find it rather ironic to be taking part in this MPI debate today, given that for the past 31/2 years Mr Humphries and Mr Stefaniak have tried to make endless political capital about police matters under Labor's administration. The reality is that during that period the police in this Territory received the most massive injection of capital assets that they had ever had. In our three years we spent more on police assets than had been spent in the previous 30 years. The absolutely first-class new Winchester police complex at Belconnen was built and paid for as a Labor initiative. The refurbished state-of-the-art Civic police station, in effect a new police station, opened by Mr Humphries, was built and paid for by Labor.

Despite all the bleating and carrying on from the former Opposition that they were going to review the police budget and give the police another $1m, of course nothing happened in this year's budget. Mr Humphries was reduced to the most remarkably lame excuse of, "We did not really breach our election promise to put more money into the police budget. It is just that the police never asked for it". I do not think anybody believed that one. I note that when Mr Palmer was asked by Ms Jackson on ABC radio whether he would like an additional $1m he seemed rather keen on the idea. I will be interested to hear what he has to say at the Estimates Committee as to whether that statement of Mr Humphries's is believable.

While I am very keen to support Mr Osborne in his concerns about what is happening under Mr Humphries's stewardship, I hasten to say that I was not involved in the drafting of the matter of public importance. I am not sure that I would have described it as a popgun appointment. In saying that we should abolish the police portfolio, Mr Osborne is really trying to draw attention to the problems. I do not think we need to be literal about this. It is ironic that our administration did not have a Police Minister. As Attorney-General, I was Minister responsible for police - I suppose, in popular usage, Police Minister. Given the fact that policing is a contract arrangement, we did not have the grandiose title of Police Minister as a formal portfolio title. It seems that about the only thing Mr Humphries has done is give himself the title. There seems to be a total drift and lack of control in events within the police force here.

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