Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (22 October) . . Page.. 3937 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
Although the telephone book directs people to call the 13 number if they need police attendance, a diversion system should have been in place long before now to ensure that all calls are answered. I have heard that the minister for police has responded by getting a call diversion system installed to redirect unanswered calls, which will hopefully curb the problem that we have had over the last number of months.
I am unwilling to support the motion in its current form, as I am not satisfied that a decline in police performance has been proven. I think there are also some concerns about the basis on which this motion is founded, and I am waiting for the information to show that there has been an increase in community complaints about the lack of police response to emergency assistance calls. Where is the information that shows this? I think that needs to be put forward.
I am not confident that there is a practical way of increasing police patrols but reducing administrative work, unless a policy decision is made to warn rather than charge detected offenders. This would appear to defeat the purpose of the increased police presence, which is presumably to deter commission of offences. I think if we are going to spend more money on stopping crime we need to be putting it into diversionary programs; we need to be looking at the root causes of crime as opposed to just continuing to lock people away.
The amendment put forward by the minister is one of those congratulatory amendments-and I am not necessarily swayed that it will solve the problems that I have raised either-but it does make this motion a little bit more palatable. I think it is important that we call on the Commonwealth to consider ACT needs before dispatching police on overseas missions.
I note that the latest deployment of police to the Solomon Islands has not reduced our ACT police force below the levels promised in the budget and that a mix of experienced and new police has been sent over, so average levels of experience have not been reduced either. I think it is important that we ask the federal minister responsible for the AFP to remember his commitment to the territory and our needs for a police force when we are looking at our international obligations.
MR HARGREAVES (4.00): Mr Speaker, I speak both to the amendment and to the substantive motion, and I rise in this debate to give it perspective as a member for Brindabella. It is a shame that my colleague, the member for Brindabella, Mr Pratt, hasn't checked the facts about community policing in his own electorate. I acknowledge the contribution by the people of Brindabella in the peace-keeping force in the Solomons. But to suggest that the performance of our police is clearly beginning to decline and that there has been an increase in community complaints and response times, in my view, is clearly aimed at misrepresenting the effectiveness of our police, particularly in Brindabella.
Mr Speaker, the figures I quote come from a report given by the police to a Tuggeranong Community Council meeting on 4 September this year. If Mr Pratt was at that meeting, why has he not acknowledged the good work by our police? If he was not there as a member for Brindabella, which includes Tuggeranong, why did he not send his apologies to that meeting?