Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 1893 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
Given the Federal election that is looming, the possibility of a new government at the Federal level and other problems, they believe that it could well be a year at least before the ACT gets legislation through the Federal Parliament to create a separate ACT-appointed police chief or police commissioner. I do not like that fact, but it is a fact.
Mr Osborne regrets that we are going to lose Lloyd Worthy. I have to disabuse him of one thing: Commander Worthy has not been an ACT regional policeman for more than five years and he has not worked in the ACT for almost two years. I regret that the AFP is going to lose him; but, to be quite frank, I do not think the ACT will much notice his departure. Mr Connolly referred to senior officer after senior officer leaving the force. Certainly, a number have announced their retirement, but off the top of my head I can think of only one, Ric Ninness, who is actually leaving the ACT Region.
Ms Follett: Mr Dawson.
MR HUMPHRIES: He went six months ago, Ms Follett. You are a bit slow to catch up. We had not actually announced any restructuring at that stage. Ms Follett has not quite caught up with this fact. The argument by Mr Connolly was that because of restructuring people were leaving. We cannot be blamed for Mr Dawson in those circumstances, can we?
Mr Speaker, Mr Osborne also said that the police had disregarded the unanimous recommendation of an Assembly committee. That is also quite wrong. The Assembly was told by the Government, not by the police, that there would be no further restructuring of the AFP before the handing down of the report by Mr Connolly's Legal Affairs Committee. That was the case. There was no restructuring before that point, but unbeknown to you the report had been handed down and three weeks afterwards the Government, in conjunction with the Federal Police, announced changes to the structure of policing. As I understood it, that was in accordance with the undertaking I had given to this Assembly. I sincerely hope that it is the view of the Assembly that we should be able to proceed with changes to the structure of policing between that report coming down and the outcome of that report, which might be the provision of some new structure at the Federal level that gives us an ACT chief police officer. Mr Speaker, I have to say that all those things are quite in error.
I make it clear that the redundancies in the AFP and the loss of positions have been produced by one thing. The Federal Labor Government imposed a $4.5m budget cut on Australian Federal Police operations. The ACT Government did not impose a budget cut. We are sustaining expenditure on policing at the level for last year. It is very rich for Mr Connolly to complain about redundancies and officer after officer leaving the force when his colleagues on the hill have caused that to happen. We are trying to do something about this. The moment Mr Keating goes to the polls, we will do something about it; but we cannot very well do anything before that occurs.