Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2498 ..
Mr Osborne: I have not been here for five years.
MR HUMPHRIES: Maybe so. Mr Connolly is also right when he points out that there is still a relatively high level of expenditure on policing in this jurisdiction, per capita, compared with other places in Australia. It is therefore incumbent on us, Madam Deputy Speaker, to make sure that what money we have in this budget is being well spent. My criticism has always been that we have placed too little of the policing resources at the sharp end of policing, the sort of thing that Mr Osborne was referring to in terms of police cars in Tuggeranong and so on. This Government, since it came to office, has reorganised police resources to do just that, and, I might say, in the face of criticism from Mr Osborne. We can just create more resources, I suppose, and put them into the present structures of policing; but that does not make much sense, in my view. We ought to do things on a smarter and better basis. I think that this is the way to go.
As a result of the restructuring we have undertaken, the Liberal Government has arranged to have additional police in all four districts of the ACT. We have an additional six police in Civic to deal with the problems that Mr Osborne referred to in Civic, including plain-clothes police and detectives. We have also put in permanent patrols on Friday and Saturday nights at Manuka, where there obviously has been a major problem. That will continue to be the thrust of our changes in policing - to get police out from behind desks into squad cars, onto foot patrols and onto bicycles. That is the direction that we want to take, and that will be the direction I think we will achieve from the policing budget.
MR WHITECROSS (12.58 am): Madam Deputy Speaker, I endorse the comments of my colleague Mr Osborne in relation to the Tuggeranong Police Station. The inadequacy of the accommodation at the current Tuggeranong Police Station is a real concern and it must significantly affect the quality of the performance of the operations. That was something that we had undertaken to do, so I do endorse what Mr Osborne said. It should be a priority. It is an important initiative. It is something that has been put off just to save money.
There is one other thing I wanted to raise, Madam Deputy Speaker, and that is this issue about the commitment of this Government to matching its rhetoric in relation to police funding. Mr Connolly has spoken at length about Mr Humphries's new and creative explanation for why an agency did not get the money that they had been promised in the election campaign, which was that they did not want it. At the Estimates Committee, when we asked Commissioner Palmer why he had been so shy about asking for the money, he looked very surprised to discover that the money was on offer from the Government and that he had missed out on it merely because he had not asked. He seemed rather crestfallen that the opportunity had passed him by; that the million dollars was just outside his reach; that he had just missed out on it. I am sure, Madam Deputy Speaker, that that will be a burden he will carry for the rest of his days in the police force - that he could have increased the police budget in the ACT by a million dollars if only he had known. We can only marvel that the Minister forgot to tell him that this million dollars was at his beck and call.