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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 1909 ..

Part 14 - Department of Justice and Community Safety

Proposed expenditure - Justice and Community Safety, $144,358,000 (comprising net cost of outputs, $78,094,000; capital injection, $2,116,000; and payments on behalf of Territory, $64,148,000)

MR HARGREAVES (3.55): Mr Speaker, I will make a couple of general comments and then some specific ones regarding policing. As with other parts of this budget, I found it quite difficult to make cost comparisons because of the way in which the document was presented. I would urge the presentation of more simplistic formatting so that members can actually get an idea of what has happened in years gone by. Indeed, I had to rely on questions on notice at the Estimates Committee. I am grateful to those officers who did the number crunching, but perhaps it was not really necessary.

I would like to see, within the budget papers, better and more relevant performance indicators, particularly for the AFP. I understand it has been very difficult, in a system sense, to provide this information. I know the Minister and his department have been working with the AFP to try to get some systems up so that we can get detailed information. I encourage them to keep that up. I am sure there is agreement that we are trying to make value judgments on the AFP in the dark in terms of the numerical information we have, and I appreciate the difficulty there.

Mr Speaker, I now turn specifically to the AFP. I am concerned that the number of police that we have - and I had to get this information from the Estimates Committee - and the number we should be having are two different things. Earlier we talked about being 20 down. I understand we are probably still 20 down. But if we are a quarter of the way through the year, that actually makes us 25 down - according to my calculations - and as the year rolls on the number gets higher.

For the record - and this information comes from an answer to a question on notice in the estimates - in 1996-97, the number of full-time police was 624. Advice in that answer was that the attrition rate was 3 per cent - that is, 19. That reduced the number, of course, to 605. The success rate of the recruits at 90 per cent was 34, so that bumped the number back up to 639. There was no lateral entry during that year. When we asked what the full-time equivalent, or actual, number was for that year, we were told it was 619. According to the attrition rate - those leaving - and the rate of recruits, we should have kicked off this year with 639 operative police officers, and that is not counting the support staff. I accept also that a proportion of those look after Federal and not ACT matters.

I also understand from Mr Palmer, I think it was, or Mr Stoll - I do not recall which one - that, when we have a downsurge in numbers, it is the Federal component of the service which suffers first and not the ACT part. But the difference is 20 officers. If we start the year with that many down, three months in we will be down by 25. In December it will be another five, so we will be 30 down. We would need to have 30 people coming on strength for the rest of the year to average that out so that we were not short.

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