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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2496 ..

Proposed expenditure - Division 110 - Maintenance of Law and Order, $51,545,000

MR CONNOLLY (12.48 am): Even though the hour is late, this is an area where we really have to make a point. This is one of the more blatant retreats from an election promise - the million dollars additional expenditure for the police which Mr Humphries had been carrying on about. All through the three years of Labor government, Mr Humphries was bleating about the police budget. He bleated about the police budget that we tabled last year, saying it was terrible and we would all be killed in our beds. Of course, the police budget that Mr Humphries has handed down is, virtually down to the dollar, the police budget that was in our forward estimates.

We said that we had to look at addressing police recurrent expenditures and bring them more into line with norms of expenditure. It is still, in per capita terms, the second highest in Australia, exceeded only by the Northern Territory. At the same time we came good on the capital works for the police. There is nothing in this budget for the police facility in Gungahlin. We built the new Winchester state-of-the-art police headquarters.

Mr Humphries: But did not pay for it.

MR CONNOLLY: We paid totally for Winchester and we did the complete refurbishment of the city centre. Mr Humphries, in his embarrassment at such a paltry effort in police capital works, has been bleating for the last six months or so about the cost of the desks for the refurbished police station.

Mrs Carnell: No, it was the chairs that were the problem.

MR CONNOLLY: The chairs for the new police station. You get approval for a massive capital works project of some $8m. You then can come forward in a future budget if you want new furniture as well. Mr Humphries seems to think that because we provided only the $8m and left him to provide the new furniture he got a rough deal.

The ultimate absurdity, Madam Deputy Speaker, was the missing million dollars - the million dollars that he had promised and the million dollars that he has walked away from. The absurd justification that we got for this at one stage was that the police never asked for the money. Mr Humphries really must think that we all must have come down in the last shower. We have never heard of any agency who would not like a little more money. The police must have a very different approach to this Government than they had with us. Every time I sat down with any of the chief police officers or Federal police commissioners, while they were very happy to work with the Government to achieve budget efficiencies, they always had a whole range of very impressive projects that they could have carried forward if they had a little more money. Mr Humphries says that they did not ask for it, and that, surely, must go down as one of the lamest excuses for abandoning an election promise that we have ever heard. However, at the end of the day the dollar amount in the police budget is the dollar amount that we had got the police budget to, proving that we must have been right all along.

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