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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2385 ..



I am also particularly concerned at the government's response to getting meaningful information out of our court system. This has been an ongoing problem and the now Attorney was quite rightly concerned about it when he was the shadow minister. It was something I thought we would have finally overcome with the new computer systems that we put budget money into two or three years ago and which are constantly being upgraded. But it still seems to be amazingly difficult to get facts-there should be a simple ability to do this-on how much things cost and what judgments were made in various matters.

The Estimates Committee made a recommendation that the costs and workload details for each of the courts within the ACT system be provided separately but, again, this task seems to be too hard to carry out. I think the government's response to this recommendation is just so much gobbledygook. The response was:

It would be artificial and/or misleading to make gross estimates of the proportions of the total costs of the operations of the Supreme Court that are attributable to the Court of Appeal.

The response then went on to state the bleeding obvious, that we all know that judges of appeal are drawn from both resident judges in the Supreme Court and visiting judges and, of course, that there are common support services. I find that disingenuous in the extreme. I do not think it would be all that difficult to provide estimates of actual costs. There needs to be a better system so that we can see how effectively and efficiently our courts are tracking in an administrative way.

It is also important to have additional information in respect of the decisions that are made at least in the superior courts, the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. It is not rocket science, it is not all that difficult, and I am very disappointed to see the government's response to that matter.

Part and parcel of any system of justice is a well-run police force which is responsive to community needs. I am concerned about recent reports that-and this affects my own electorate of Ginninderra-the number of police officers in North Canberra, Belconnen and, of course, Gungahlin has been reduced by 19 and that the Gungahlin station is not going to be open all the time. Of course, 19 officers less for Belconnen and Gungahlin will have a not insignificant impact on the ability of police to apprehend criminals and respond to community needs.

I receive on a fairly regular basis complaints from residents in Belconnen about the difficulties experienced in getting enough police to respond to requests from citizens. I certainly hope we don't go back to the bad old days of the Follett government when police services were cut. Nonetheless, it seems that this is happening. It is absolutely essential that the community is protected. One of the most important tasks of any government is to ensure the security of its citizens. In fact, its predominant and primary task is to do just that. At the national level that means a strong defence force and at a state and territory level a strong and properly resourced police force. There are some very worrying signs in relation to that.

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