Page 2193 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 22 June 2005

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Ms MacDonald: Mr Speaker, I wish to raise a point of order. I am a little confused. Mr Mulcahy seems to be straying from the issue. I thought we were talking about policing.

MR MULCAHY: Mr Speaker, I am talking about how much per head, and giving an illustration of why that is, or may be, a flawed statistical figure. Besides that illustration I have one other, which is about health.

MR SPEAKER: Remain relevant, Mr Mulcahy.

MR MULCAHY: We have heard it said that we spend so much more per head in health. Again, we have seen that that really is a consequence of poor management of our health resources, so I view with some scepticism that this figure is an indication that all is well in the territory’s resourcing. The minister strayed into an ill-advised area in that he said that Mr Pratt—and indeed I was supportive of him on this—had raised issues concerning Manuka. He implied that it was a figment of our imagination, or a beat up, because he said that one person raised an issue with him. I am afraid I have to tell the minister that one person did not raise an issue with us; it was a very large number of businesses in Manuka, as well as citizens of this community, who called my office. Different young people have called and cited event after event.

This was the very first matter raised since I was elected last year and it has continued until the last few weeks without abatement. This incredible performance at estimates was fascinating. I felt sorry for the chief police officer because he had to wheel out a line of defence that, unfortunately, sat rather uncomfortably with a document I tabled, which became an exhibit, that cited 62 offences over several nights. This was after the chief police officer said, “We only had five property crimes,” or something to that effect. He did, understandably, look a bit distressed. I would be embarrassed if somebody then put in front of me a security report showing a huge number of offences.

I will give the minister credit for what he says publicly about there not being an issue. I had a supporters dinner last night in Canberra and I asked some of the people who had businesses in Manuka, “How are you going in Manuka?” They said, “There are police everywhere!” This mythical problem Mr Pratt raised has suddenly been the subject of considerable focus by the police. Unfortunately, at the same function, we heard that there was not a policeman to be found at Calwell; that the kids were ransacking the place last Saturday night, breaking into shops and stealing meat out of the butcher’s shop. What it told me is that, if you yell loudly enough about an area of Canberra, they will take an army of police and move them in there until things calm down.

The situation in Manuka is being publicly addressed by individual traders, not just by one person. People from restaurants and the pharmacy in the area have gone on the record, and a large number of private citizens have complained. If the minister wants to look at it—time will restrict me from raising it—he will see from the security reports logged, which are an exhibit with the estimates report, that a large number of offences have occurred over successive nights, which have all been documented in detail. It is quite extraordinary. They constantly say there is no police presence there. These all extend back only over a period in April—22 April, 29 and 30 April—and 6 May. There

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