Page 2201 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 22 June 2005

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MR PRATT: That is what is reported. If you want to deny those reports, if you do not want to believe the people at Calwell shops, go and stare them in the face and say that. That is what those people are saying. Guess what else they say, Mr Gentleman. They say that they have not had police visit them in a community policing role—that is hopping out of a police car, going inside, engaging in conversation and picking up some of that intelligence, as we expect them to in respect of intelligence-led policing, to find out what is going on—for one year. They have not seen them for one year. These people have said that to me and I am not going to disbelieve them until I can check it further. Why don’t you go and talk to them? If you represent that constituency, go and talk to them. Those are issues which prove that there is, in fact, a vacuum and that there is not a suitable police presence; and that comes back to numbers.

Mr Gentleman talked about double shifts. Of course double shifts are okay if the police have the resources to do them, but to depend on double shifts is unacceptable. It is all well and good for you to say that, if a policeman wants to carry out a double shift and does not want to go home because the next shift is vacant, don’t you think that begs the question of capacity? Why should police be forced to stay and do an extra shift or come in and do extra hours because they know their mates are not there and they do not want to let them down? That is a question of capacity, Mr Gentleman.

The minister has quoted a number of facts and figures which he says would indicate police performance. Minister, it does not matter whether you quote $11 a head or other supposed productivity indictors; the bottom line is that there is not a police presence to deter crime. From the rosters for police shifts we see that our stations are not properly manned; too much overtime is being relied upon, and this reflects a strain on police. Our police deserve a better amount of support and service than they are getting.

Police performances and productivity have been regularly hailed by the opposition, by the way. The minister says that we question the police and we criticise police productivity. That is not the case. The records in this place will show that there has been a lot of admiration expressed for ACT police, as well as a lot of concern expressed by me and by the opposition about the fact that ACT police are overstretched and not properly resourced. We think they do a good job, but they can only go so far. The responsibility is back on the government to ensure that they are properly resourced to carry out the job that they want to carry out.

Mr Hargreaves is giving gratuitous advice to the opposition to stop criticising police. He is concerned about the impact of our words on the morale of police, and supposedly alarming the community. Of course, this is a typical routine attempt by Mr Hargreaves to intimidate debate. We are not allowed to represent community or, indeed, police concerns. Let us talk about what can be done to help police, rather than gag debate or gag scrutiny of his ministership.

Finally, I note that the minister did not deny that he has misrepresented the facts in this case. He has not challenged the veracity of the figures I have quoted here today from Hansard, from questions without notice, from questions on notice, from other sources and from discussions in estimates. He has not questioned the veracity of the gap we have illustrated here today between what he has continually said about police numbers and supposedly increasing police strength versus what was pulled out of estimates. He has

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