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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 1915 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

I certainly have no hesitation in complimenting all the officers of the Attorney's department that I come across on their very high standard of work and professionalism. In that regard I note briefings that I have had from the Community Advocate and discussions that I have had with representatives of the Privacy Commissioner and the Australian Government Solicitor's office from time to time. I commend them for the assistance they provide and their professionalism.

MR RUGENDYKE (4.24): I would just like to add my words to this section of the debate on the Appropriation Bill. The areas of justice and community safety, emergency services, police, fire and the services that come under the directorship of Mr Mike Castle are obviously of interest to me. I am pleased to see that the budget contains some good initiatives for policing and emergency services. There is increased funding for our correctional services, which is good to see, to try to deal with some problems at the Belconnen Remand Centre - an institution which is long past its use-by date.

An initiative that seems to be at the forefront is the notion of a community help desk, and that is of concern to me. Mr Speaker, these types of things have been tried before, with little success. I do not see that as a positive step. It seems to take police off the streets. Something that we all try to strive for is having police on the streets doing operational police work. I think that having people answering the phones on this community help desk is not what is required.

I notice - and I talk about this often - that when budgetary conditions are tight, the first things to go are the things that the community really rely on, such as bicycle patrols, community policing initiatives and having people look after Neighbourhood Watch. These are easy targets that are taken away from the community to fill gaps at police stations and front offices. I applaud the Attorney-General for providing the best policing service that the Territory, I believe, can have. The Attorney-General is labouring under great difficulty, effectively having no control over his own police force by virtue of the fact that the AFP is a Federal body under a Federal department. I can appreciate how difficult it would be for the Attorney-General to do his job as Attorney-General under those circumstances.

Another concern I have, and it is an interest that I will keep a firm eye on, is the move to joint emergency service complexes. When the JESC movement was started some time ago, I actually saw it as an extremely positive way of combining all emergency services under one roof. It has to be an advantage, it has to be good for the interaction of the various agencies, and I hope it works well. It is something that I would have loved to have been a part of as a serving police officer.

The idea of closing the Woden station to become part of Tuggeranong, or whatever the plan is, is a strange idea, one that I doubt would serve the community as it should. As a matter of fact, I was down at Tuggeranong Police Station earlier today. There were a large number of people in that station and I can see that if personnel from Woden Police Station were moved to Tuggeranong station, as seems to be the plan, it would be filled up in a very short time. There was not much room to move when I was there earlier today.

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