Page 2187 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 22 June 2005

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Alarmingly, the minister says he is more about effectiveness measures than head counts. He says that he does not care about numbers. I will say more on that later. The minister blatantly ignores the fact that police numbers equal capability which, in turn, equals a presence in the community, but how effective can our police force be when clearly we have growing community angst about the lack of ability of police to respond to incidents due to a clear police shortage? How can we be confident when our police force is invisible? Why are the shopkeepers of Calwell telling me that in 12 months they have not had one police patrol visit there to engage with them and discuss safety in that shopping centre? Does that reflect a capable and effective police force? I think not.

Madam Speaker, the minister has been caught out. Despite ramming down our throats consistently in question time, at annual reports hearings and now in estimates hearings his propaganda that the government has effectively grown police numbers since 2001, the fact is that the government has presided over a reduction in effective police numbers. Not only has the government broken its promises to bring police numbers up to the national average, but also it has been happy for them to languish well below the national average benchmark.

The minister has crowed about the government’s record, but he has been caught out. He has been caught out playing with the numbers to try to give the community the impression that the government is increasing police effectiveness and police strength and therefore, in theory, that the ACT police are doing their job. They cannot if he does not resource them. He is not supporting our police force. It is overstretched and tired. The minister has misled the people and has misrepresented in this place the facts about ACT police strength.

MADAM TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mrs Burke): Order! The member’s time has expired. Before I call the minister, I would like to correct the record. I am actually a Temporary Deputy Speaker. Whilst I appreciate Mr Pratt’s elevation of my position, I had to correct the record.

MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella—Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services; Minister for Urban Services and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (5.02): Madam Temporary Deputy Speaker, it is delightful to see you in the chair. A little ray of sunshine does us all a bit of good.

Mr Pratt said a couple of things that were true, but I cannot remember them. I can only remember the rot, the hysterics, the emotion. and the whipping up of hysteria. If, from time to time, people are feeling unsafe in their homes, it is because Mr Pratt is whipping up hysteria out there, using terms such as “the police are invisible” and “we’ve got desperadoes running around town”. I guess one should ask: who is that masked man? It is Mr Pratt.

I am moved to repeat something I have said in this place before: Mr Pratt has a misunderstanding of fundamental arithmetic—what police services actually do in this town—and has misinterpreted what community policing is all about in this modern age. He would see us having a police officer stationed next to every letterbox. I would love to see the day when we could afford to have a police officer at every letterbox and look forward to seeing how that would work in multiunit complexes. It would be a sight for

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