Page 1464 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 April 2005

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before the election, Mr Hargreaves, and then did your famous backflip. You said, “If I’m police minister, I’ll bring it up to national average.” Is it any wonder Mr Stanhope did not make you police minister in the first term of the Stanhope government? Is it any wonder that he had to leave it until the second term for that to occur? But the problem is that—

Mr Hargreaves: Selective quoting.

MR SMYTH: It is not selective quoting; it is what you said—that you would bring it to national average. We do not have national average and, like so many things that this government promises, it is not coming to fruition.

Mr Hargreaves: We have 20 more coppers than you gave them.

MR SMYTH: Okay, if you have more coppers—

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Hargreaves! Mr Smyth, direct your comments through the chair.

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, you are right: I should direct my comments through the chair. I get a better level of interjection from you; you are so much better at it, Mr Speaker. I should not respond to Mr Hargreaves but, if you will indulge me just this once, Mr Speaker, Mr Hargreaves said that there are more police on the street. Well, good. Then I expect that Mr Hargreaves will comply with paragraph (2) of Mr Pratt’s motion and reveal to the Assembly and the community the true strength of the ACT police force and that he will document it, he will prove it. He asserts it all the time, but when you ask him he never proves it; he cannot prove it.

So from hereon I take it that, if there are more police on the street, we will see a reinstatement of the mounted police and, if there are more police on the street than we ever had, as Mr Hargreaves just said, they will ensure that the Gungahlin police station will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But I will be surprised when that happens because, as we fear but cannot prove—because the minister will not reveal the true numbers—there are not more police on the street all the time. That is the problem. But, if the minister is true to his word and he believes it, then clearly the government will vote for paragraph (2) of this motion and they will table the documents to prove it, quickly.

What we are saying is that the public are fed up. The public want some action on this. They want to feel safe on their own streets. They want to know that, if they ring the police, officers will respond and attend and that the wonderful atmosphere that we have always had in Canberra—of the big country town where it is very, very safe—will continue. Minister, it is over to you.

MR PRATT (Brindabella) (5.20), in reply: The minister continually hides his embarrassment about the declining police force capability by attacking the opposition’s call for him to reveal the truth about the numbers. His oft-quoted war cry is; “I won’t play this game of numbers at 50 paces,” or words to that effect. How else is the community able to measure police capability if we do not talk truthfully about the

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