Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (22 October) . . Page.. 3947 ..
MR CORNWELL (continuing):
and again, listening to the comments, that the message I am getting is that this government is soft on crime. It is all very well to quote statistics about the falling numbers.
Mr Wood: I've never heard that. Nobody tells me that-the people that I talk to.
MR CORNWELL: I speak to a great many people, Mr Minister, and they are very, very unhappy about what they see as the safety in this city.
Mr Wood: Give me an example on how we're soft on crime.
MR CORNWELL: I have just been hearing it from your side. I spoke recently to a Neighbourhood Watch group. I met, in fact, one of the police volunteers. There are some 49 of them, I understand, and they do a very good job by relieving pressure-if you like, the paperwork, the work behind the desk, et cetera, in stations.
Mr Wood: Indeed they do.
MR CORNWELL: We agree, Mr Minister. That, I would hope, would free up officers to attend to more important issues. I have no evidence to say that doesn't happen. The problem, nevertheless, still seems to be that there is a great concern out there in the community that not enough attention is being paid to crime.
Mr Pratt's motion puts forward some sensible ideas. He talks about the beat police officers. Most of the people who misbehave, except I suppose for those who are habitual criminals, are show-offs or perhaps cowards-I don't know which. Most of the concerns that many people feel, particularly the elderly, are about what they see as antisocial behaviour. It may not be threatening to them personally, but it is threatening. The fact is a beat police officer will soon prevent that type of thing happening in the area. That is the point.
We have a responsibility to ensure not only that our population is safe here in this territory but also that they feel secure. I believe that a number of the suggestions put forward by Mr Pratt are a step in the right direction. I do not want to see any further diminution in the number of police out there. I would like to see them increased. I would like to see more justice in the city, rather than the law.
I commend Mr Pratt's motion to members. I don't see anything wrong with it and I am puzzled that the government should attempt to twist this around so that it appears to be an opposition attack on the police. It is far from it.
MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (4.37): I will speak to the suite of questions before the house, Mr Speaker. First of all I will say that not a lot of fact has been introduced into this debate from that side of the house, but I will give you one fact. If the Liberal government had been returned at the last election and they had honoured their election promises, there would be fewer police operating in Canberra today. Go look at the pre-election commitments.