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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (22 April) . . Page.. 1277 ..

Australian Federal Police

(Question No. 124)

Mr Hargreaves asked the Minister for Justice and Community Safety, upon notice, on 25 March 1999:

(1) Is there any provision in the Grants Commission funding to recognise the disadvantages the ACT have experienced in having little or no policy control over the AFP, if so:

(a) how much in monetary terms is that disadvantage; and

(b) how do you intend to find that money should the ACT develop its own police force.

Mr Humphries: The answer to the member's question is as follows:

(1) Yes, there is such a provision. In the Commonwealth Grants Commission's 1999 Review of General Revenue Grant Relativities it was recommended that the ACT receive $9.3m in transitional allowance for the provision of police services. In assessing this allowance the Commission stated:

"Transitional allowances have been continued for Police because the ACT has little effective control over the provision of police services...Stage Two of the Commonwealth - ACT review of policing is likely to be completed in mid 1999. It is expected to lead to the development of a revised arrangement which will include accountability mechanisms and greater capacity for the ACT to provide policy direction. We have therefore decided to continue to assess a transitional allowance, pending the outcome of the review."

Importantly, the Commission is suggesting that it should not be assumed that the transitional allowance for policing will continue indefinitely. The history of transitional allowances since self-government is that they have steadily reduced and, in some cases, been eliminated, even though the 'transition' has continued.

The transitional allowance is calculated by comparing the average salary levels for the AFP with the average salary levels for State police services. The Commission has assessed that the higher average salaries for the AFP mean that the ACT would need to spend $9.3m more than if it chose to provide a national average level of policing services.

The Commission's findings do not compel the ACT to spend this allowance on policing. The Commission's assessments are based on the principle that all States and Territories should be given the capacity to provide an average level of service, regardless of the actual level of services they choose to provide. Therefore, the ACT is at liberty to direct its expenditure priorities as it wishes. This is a fundamental precept underlying fiscal equalisation.

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