Page 1453 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 April 2005

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who can assist you, there is obviously a natural tendency not to do certain things, not to address certain problems that would and should normally be addressed. That is a very bad situation, but that is what a lack of resourcing sometimes does to you.

It is essential, especially in a most dangerous job like policing, to have that backup, to have the knowledge that, if you get into trouble and you are there doing your duty to protect the community, you will have backup coming to assist you if you get into trouble. I have handled a number of cases in the past involving police having had that backup. Yes, police officers have had their heads punched in on a couple of occasions while waiting for the backup, but at least it has come. But you will not have that confidence if you know the backup simply is not there because the resources are not there, the people are not there. What are you going to do? It is a quite horrible situation in which to put police. Indeed, that is a concern that has been expressed to me as well.

This government does not help, and probably never has helped, in terms of giving police the relevant powers they need. Going right back to the days of the First Assembly, members of the Labor Party vehemently opposed sensible measures such as police move-on powers and sensible laws such as banning drinking around bus interchanges and the like. Prior to taking government, they opposed some very important revisions to the Crimes Act to make the job of the police a lot easier, such as providing for reasonable suspicion rather than reasonable belief, to bring us into line with other states. Luckily, that Assembly had the sense to pass that provision.

To the government’s credit, it has not changed any of those recent laws. But it opposed them to start with, which was indicative, I think, of the government’s funny attitude. One questions just how much confidence members of the government actually have in the police. They have a funny attitude in terms of law and order. They seem to be suspicious of police. That still comes through to an extent, which concerns me.

I think that it should be painfully obvious to the government that the police force is a fine bunch of men and women fully deserving of our support who need greater resources in this modern age. Canberra is no longer a small town, having some 325,000 people. It is a big city, a real city, and has all the crime that goes with being a real city, including more complex crime. The police have to put more intensive efforts into solving some of the more complex crime that we have. All of those things indicate that the police need to be given greater resourcing, greater assistance and greater attention by this government, which is being derelict in its duty if it continues to neglect the police force of the Australian Capital Territory.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.39): Although I understand some of the principles that drive this motion, I cannot support it, although I recognise it reflects a number of concerns from sections of our community. The Australian Federal Police Association webpage dedicated to Canberra policing does state that the ACT has had the highest increase in crime rates over the last few years, has the highest crime rates in relation to home invasion and motor vehicle theft of any state or territory and has the lowest police numbers per population of any police force in Australia. So some of the concerns that Mr Pratt is raising are matters of fact.

However, while I agree with the motion’s argument that more must be done about the crime problem in the ACT, I believe that there is much more to the story than just police

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