Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 10 April 2008) . . Page.. 1306 ..
commonwealth or the territory be required to pick up the salary and overtime bill for AFP and protective service officers?
MR STANHOPE: I thank Dr Foskey for the question. I am not quite sure whether I heard correctly the preamble about the responsibility for the decision that the torch relay be held in Canberra. The decision was essentially—
DR FOSKEY: Explanation?
MR STANHOPE: I did not quite hear. I can give you the answer. The decision that the torch relay be held in Canberra was essentially an offer made by BOCOG to the ACT government. To the extent that a decision was made to conduct the relay here, the decision was in the first instance made by BOCOG and then relayed to the ACT government, which I was happy to accept.
When we did an analysis of likely costs, ACT government officials came to a sum—in terms of anticipated costs—of between $900,000 and $1 million. The ACT government approached the commonwealth at an early stage in relation to that. We received an assurance from the then head of the Prime Minister’s department, Dr Peter Shergold, that the commonwealth would willingly accept responsibility for half of that anticipated cost.
At that stage, the discussions held between Mr Andrew Cappie-Wood, chief executive of the Chief Minister’s Department and Dr Peter Shergold, the then head of the Prime Minister’s department, were on the basis that the commonwealth would meet costs of around half a million dollars. We, until this week, believed that that would be the rough totality of costs associated with the relay.
It was initially imagined that ACT Policing would be able to absorb the cost of security requirements. That is no longer—in the light of enhanced security arrangements that have been put in place—a likelihood. Dr Foskey, you are quite right. We now anticipate significantly increased security costs. At this stage it is simply impossible for me to even guess the quantum of that additional cost. But it will be significant. There is no doubt about that.
Having regard to the nature of the protests and the reasons for the enhanced security—and, of course, the enhanced security costs—the ACT government proposes to approach the commonwealth to meet the entirety of the security costs for the relay. That will be the position we put to the commonwealth: that—in the context of the event, the protests and the nature of the protests—we believe it is reasonable for the commonwealth to accept responsibility for those costs. At this stage we have not put that position to the commonwealth. I have spoken about it publicly, so they will know it is coming. We will—as we do whenever there is an argy-bargy around money—undoubtedly have something of an arm wrestle.
Dr Foskey, there will be significant increased security costs. We must ensure the security of the relay and the safety of the people involved, as well as those members of the Canberra community that wish to celebrate the torch relay and those Canberrans and other Australians who wish to take the opportunity to demonstrate.