Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 30 June 2005) . . Page.. 2617 ..
naturally expected to favour his or her own party colleagues. We understand the spirit of that but the chair was supposed to be running an inquiry or committee process that has an inquiring, collective mind.
The chair’s interference in this case was blatant during the estimates hearings. Her decision to deny visiting MLAs the opportunity to ask core formal questions was hardly discreet. I refer to the Hansard of the estimates hearings on 26 May. That shows that it was 40 minutes before I, as shadow police minister, was allowed to ask the first formal question on policing matters. That convention has been exercised in this place for the last four years. Even when I was afforded the opportunity to finally ask questions I was then subject to Mr Hargreaves’s normal barrage of insults and, of course, all the evasive filibustering that we have come to see in this minister in the chamber as well as in committee rooms from time to time. He is hypersensitive about being questioned because clearly he has something to hide.
It needs to be stated for the record that Mr Hargreaves’s belligerent attitude was the standout negative performance of all performances in estimates. His behaviour tragically reflected on the democratic process and indeed undermined democracy in the ACT. His behaviour reflected very poorly on this place. In 21 out of 58 questions that we had to put to estimates—there were so many questions that had to be put because they could not be asked as questions on notice to estimates—only 21 have been answered. We are looking forward to now seeing some of those questions being answered. If time permits we want to see all of those issues accounted for. The questions we were asking go to the heart of ACT Policing’s capabilities and the minister’s management of policing matters in this territory. They were blatantly avoided during estimates and have clearly been avoided during the questions on notice process.
It is convention in this place that ministers and their departments are scrutinised in estimates committee hearings. That clearly has not been allowed to happen. I have no bone to pick with our police; they are hardworking servants of the community who do the best they possibly can; and whilst dedicated and resourceful, they are overworked and have too many overtime shifts.
While a policeman should have the opportunity to do overtime if he or she is fit and rested, the rostering system to meet minimum police station shifts should not have to rely on overtime to work. Sadly this would seem to be the case here in the ACT. This is why a significant expansion of numbers is needed quickly to reduce the strain on the force. The real problem here lies with this government’s lack of commitment, clearly apparent in the 2005-06 budget, to increase ACT Policing numbers to ensure an adequate policing presence throughout our community. A token gesture of 40 new police over four years which will not even meet attrition simply does not make the grade.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditure—Part 1.20—Emergency Services Authority, $53,495,000 (net costs of outputs) and $13,514,000 (capital injection), totalling $67,009,000.
MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (9.31): One of the significant issues that came out in relation to emergency services was the commitment to the McLeod report, so to speak. We saw a failure to deliver on a number of recommendations. One of the key recommendations