Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (27 November) . . Page.. 4833 ..
MR WOOD (continuing):
I will start with Mr Pratt's last point or perception. Yes, publics have perceptions. And I think that is understandably when you can turn on your TV every night-and especially Sydney TV, not Canberra TV. When you have the occasional word from this opposition that crime is rampant and things are dreadful, people may be concerned. Certainly I would not walk behind a couple of the city buildings at 3 o'clock in the morning, but very few people do that. This remains the safest community in a city of this size anywhere. It is the safest community.
So we have a beat-up case on law and order, but in fact no case was made today. The issue that Mr Pratt raised, and then does not want to hear about as he goes from the chamber, related to the mounted police team. I hope he will come back here at some stage so he can hear what I have to say. I will carry on. Mr Stefaniak is here; he can report back to Mr Pratt. Mr Stefaniak wanted to look after the interests of the people of Hall who just like to go and pat the horses. The mounted police force was never a goer; never!
Mrs Burke: You never gave it a chance.
MR WOOD: You pay attention. It was forced on ACT Policing by the then minister. They were most unwilling-
Mrs Burke: I know about the police forces. You never use them.
MR WOOD: It's the simple fact, Mrs Burke. They were unwilling and it was at the insistence of the minister of the day that they got this mounted police force. Two horses, supposed to build up to six. They have a massive, wonderful police float and all the gear to go with it, but it was forced on them by your colleague, now Senator Humphries. And they didn't want it. In fact, I think it would be a good idea in the interest of transparency if Senator Humphries, as he is now, were to come out and indicate all the interesting background to the decision to force that on the police. The team was never a goer. It was never able to work.
Mr Pratt wanted some details about the funding and the sponsorship. What a way to go! I suppose it is the measure of the struggle at the time that Mr Humphries had that he had to send out begging letters to try to get some money for this. Of course, ActewAGL, being a half-government instrumentality, can often be induced to come to the party.
There was $40,000 in each of two years from ActewAGL. The Hall Rotary Club-good on them-contributed $1,000 in one year. Letters went around everywhere encouraging agencies to support the team. But it didn't really get off the ground. Sponsorship, or proposed sponsorship, was closely scrutinised by the AFP. We could have had the saddlecloths sponsored by ActewAGL, sponsored by McDonalds, or sponsored by KFC. They could have been sponsored by some more dubious places around Canberra. Naturally, the police are always concerned about sponsorship and needed to look at it.
One potential sponsor was the subject of an AFP investigation, and others had identified interests in providing services to the AFP. But the majority of those approached in the final analysis were not keen to provide substantial sponsorship funds. In fact, nor should they; it is not the function of this government to require ACT Policing to seek sponsorship for its services.