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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (31 August) . . Page.. 2610 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

The fact remains, even with the most recent set of figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on crime and victimisation in the ACT, that the ACT is a relatively safe place to live compared with other Australian cities. Although there is much work to be done to retain that status, I believe that it is not seriously at risk.

Mr Speaker, I am aware of some concerns in recent days about a number of drug deals occurring at the Bega Flats. I am told, although I did not see it, that there was a report on one of the TV stations a couple of nights ago disclosing a drug deal that was actually caught on camera. That was evidence, apparently, of unchecked drug dealing taking place in that part of the city.

First of all, members will be aware that the city is a place where probably more drug dealing occurs than elsewhere in the ACT because it is a meeting place. People will come to congregate and interact and that is where, unfortunately, a large number of drug deals do occur. Places such as the Bega Flats are not exceptional in that respect. Secondly, Mr Speaker, the particular incident which, I understand, was caught on camera by, I think it was, WIN Television, the other night was observed at the same time by undercover AFP officers, I understand, and an arrest was subsequently made.

Mr Speaker, I think it is quite wrong to suggest that the AFP are not both aware of and addressing the question of drug dealing in particular parts of the ACT. I am confident that the resources they are now putting into this exercise will be sufficient to deal with a large number of the issues that that gives rise to. In fact, in the last few days, there has been a very intensive effort, particularly around the Civic area, to clean up a number of antisocial activities, particularly relating to drug dealing and drug abuse. Mr Speaker, the AFP have had considerable success with that exercise in sending a very clear signal to those who seek to use Civic, in particular, as a kind of a marketplace for drugs that they can expect a much greater degree of pressure than they have experienced in the past if they want to continue doing that.

MR KAINE: I have a supplementary question. Minister, I heard what you said and I take it at face value, but I ask you again: Are you satisfied that the resources currently devoted to the Bega Flats particularly are adequate, given the concern of many of the residents who live there?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, the question of devoting resources to a particular place in the ACT is a very transitory issue. I would never say to the AFP that for the next two weeks, the next month or the next six weeks they should put a particular number of resources into a particular place in the ACT because, first of all, I do not think that the AFP should be directed, generally speaking - there are some exceptions perhaps - to the place where politicians or governments feel that there needs to be the most activity, for political purposes.

I think that there does need to be a response to issues of concern to the broader community and, in turn, to politicians; but, essentially, the task of allocating resources and directing targets within the range of issues that the AFP have to deal with is an issue for the AFP themselves. They should be working out where the most pressing needs arise. They have to decide what are the most important priorities. Obviously, they will tend to give issues where people are actually being held up, robbed, attacked or

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