Page 1462 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 April 2005

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I would suggest that the government needs to get serious about the people of Gungahlin. They are not second-class citizens. We know that they suffer a lot from a lack of services in other areas, we know that their road links are pretty ordinary, to say the least, and we know that their community centre, even their town centre, is underresourced, with a lack of ovals and sporting facilities. So there are all sorts of issues, yet policing is one of the things that really give people a sense of confidence and wellbeing, and I do not think we can leave the people of Gungahlin without adequate police support. Especially, we need to look at the possibility of basing vehicles in the Gungahlin area and a full-time presence after hours.

In conclusion, I commend Mr Pratt for bringing forward this motion. I note the sniggers coming across from the other side, particularly from Mr Hargreaves. That seems to be the way he responds to these issues of genuine community concern. It seems to me that the way he operates as a minister is to dismiss any criticisms and say, “No, this is just rubbish coming from the opposition.” But there are genuine concerns in the community. There are genuine problems and there is a need for an increased presence, particularly in Gungahlin, and, on behalf of my constituents in the Gungahlin area, I call upon you, minister, to start acting, to start taking this issue seriously. I commend this motion.

MR SPEAKER: I call Mr Smyth.

Mr Hargreaves: I can’t believe this.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition) (5.12): Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to join this debate. I note that the minister says; “I can’t believe this.” Minister, you should believe it. This is a serious issue. It is actually an indictment of you that we are talking about it. We are talking about a serious issue of leadership, minister, to achieve the objectives that the community want. What the community is asking for, and what Mr Pratt is highlighting here, is a timely response from their police force when they call for assistance.

Most people do not ring for the fun of it. They ring because they need immediate assistance because of something that is occurring to them or in front of them or something that they have discovered when they have returned home, and it is about that timely response. This is not an attack on the individual officers of the Australia Federal Police ACT division, which this side of the chamber have the utmost respect for and over time have given them the resources to do their job—resources currently denied by their minister.

This is a timely debate. I heard the minister say earlier, “Give me examples. Give me examples.” I will give him an example. I have been approached by a couple who live in O’Connor. They rang on Australia Day this year to report that a young man was breaking into letterboxes outside their apartment block. They were told that a police car was on its way—a crime in progress, a police car on its way. That police car never arrived. When the owner of the letterbox returned home, the couple informed the owner that it been burgled, that they had told the police and that a car was pending but that as yet it had not turned up. I say again: the car never arrived. Later, the owner rang to get the incident number off the police so that she could put it on her insurance claim, only to find that the

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