Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 30 June 2005) . . Page.. 2613 ..
In another hearing, related to annual reports, we were told we will have some 200 people in corrections once the prison is up and running, but that number looks like increasing by around 100. That would mean probably an extra $10 million or so for those extra 100 people. One has to ask: where is that money coming from? There are no proper answers given in the budget. I do not think one can accept the assurance from the Treasury officials that the unencumbered cash will cover it, given the huge chunks of unencumbered cash that have been taken out in recent budgets.
The downward slide has begun. I think we are in for a very bumpy ride due to this feckless, ideologically driven government. This budget is just one example of that.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (9.10): Just briefly: I commend the government for providing funding for human rights in the coming year, for the purpose of the human rights commission’s operating costs, ACT government evaluation of the act and a separate evaluation by the ANU. Whether it is enough dollars or not—and I do not suppose there are many areas of government that feel that they have been funded as much as they would like—I do think that, since the human rights office has a statutory obligation to assess the compatibility of legislation with the Human Rights Act, it would seem a simple and inexpensive matter to provide this analysis to the Assembly, at least through the scrutiny of bills committee.
An area of concern when we are talking about law and people’s access to it is the underresourcing of the Legal Aid Office. While I am not sheeting the blame for that home to the ACT government—I believe that the funding cuts began with the federal government—we need to acknowledge the impact that this has on the ACT community and the ability for everyone to seek justice in the courts.
Finally, in reference to ACT Policing: one of the major themes of the estimates committee process has been the number of police officers available in the ACT. Far be it for me to rave on about that, but I am waiting to see the policing for the future report before making further comments in the area. I am concerned that the minister for police said last week in the Assembly that I will never get to see this report. Of course it makes me wonder what the minister for police does not want us to know.
I have got the greatest respect for the officers of the AFP who provide service in the ACT. I am concerned that there should be enough of them to perform their job, including community policing, in a manner that serves this city without stress to individual officers.
On the whole, I think that a lot of the work done in the Department of Justice and Community Safety is excellent and useful work. Those are just a couple of my concerns.
MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (9.13): Mr Speaker, one of the things that Dr Foskey just touched on was one of the important things that came through in this area, and that was, as we have stated earlier in this place, we finally got out of not the minister but the government officials the police numbers, the current number of sworn police officers in the ACT. It has been some time coming, I have got to say, and it has been quite difficult to get the figures out of this minister. Every time we have asked him a question in this place he has dismissed it and has said, “I am not going to have this debate with you; I am