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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 1910 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

I am not suggesting for one moment that we have a massive crime wave. I do not want anybody to infer that from what I have said. But it is fairly clear to me, from reports that I have received from ordinary people in Tuggeranong, for example, with which I am familiar, that the number of police that we have on the beat is insufficient. Of course it is going to be insufficient when we open the batting at 20 down.

We have had a reasonable spate of crimes with the threat of knives. We have had some robberies. We have had some gang-type stuff happening down at Tuggeranong, which is totally unacceptable. I suspect that some of that could have been prevented, and it certainly could have been addressed, had we had more police in Tuggeranong - just a couple of them - on the pushbike patrol that they are so very good at. I might say that a lot of these episodes actually involve young people.

Now, down my way - and I am sure Mr Rugendyke will confirm it is the case up his way - the police on pushbikes are very happily received by the young people. They actually like them being there. They relate to them; they rely on them. In fact, their presence is not regarded as one of coppers threatening people. Their presence is welcomed by the kids. You find that there is a downsurge in unsatisfactory behaviour because of the police presence there. That is something I would encourage. Of course, it cannot happen if we continue throughout the year being 20 down. But I did not see anything in the budget papers, in the explanatory statements, or indeed in the estimates hearings, where there was a significant recruitment drive to pick up that missing 20.

Mr Speaker, the closure of the Woden station is an issue we have debated ad nauseam, but I mention it now because it has often been said that the so-called hot spots around the Woden area - particularly around the social security offices near the cinema, in the interchange - are not really as bad as they are; it is purely perception. I do not believe that for a minute. When departments are putting on private security people to escort people to their cars, the perception is reality. We need to ensure that the services at Woden involve a significant static presence. I am hopeful that, when we see the proposal for the new station - hopefully after a satisfactory trial - we will have that static presence there.

I am concerned that the amount of money that we are paying for the contract has not increased significantly. It was a bit of a worry last year when we had to dip into the Treasurer's Advance to get additional money from all over the place for this. Clearly, I have my doubts whether $54m is sufficient. I am concerned that getting perhaps a few hundred thousand dollars from somewhere else may not have been a good idea.

Mr Speaker, the Government opened the new police station at Gungahlin. We all heard about the farcical situation when the police at that station had to go outside and watch a car chase go by - real Keystone Cops stuff. Something went wrong. Possibly it was something that could have been satisfied by resourcing it a little better. I suspect that the dialogue with the AFPA was not really satisfactory either. It was probably created in isolation of the serving police officers. We could learn a bit from that and get on with it.

Mr Speaker, I want to mention a couple of other things. One effect of the restructuring and reprofiling that has gone on has been a lowering of morale in the police force. I know that the morale of the emergency services people, in pockets - I make that point:

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