Page 2340 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008

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got there first, he was on his turf, so he brought in this bill that delivered about 30 per cent of what was required. The sad thing is that the minister actually thinks that, by writing a submission to the review of the Liquor Act, it will somehow decrease assaults or sexual assaults in the ACT. Absolutely appalling! He says, “If you want to wait, you can look at a range of reforms to the sexual assault law that I intend to introduce to the Assembly later this year.” There is a 13 per cent increase in sexual assaults and we are going to have a submission to the liquor review. I do not think the public will be particularly impressed by or pleased with the minister when they become apprised of these issues.

It goes back to the way in which the now four successive police ministers in seven years have handled the whole issue of policing. It is always too little, too late. The police officers, the individual officers out on the street, do an excellent job. What they do not have is the resources to do the job properly. We continually have complaint after complaint from the community about how they are given the incident number so that they can claim their insurance but that the officers do not have the time or the wherewithal to get to the job.

The AFP initiated a review of the roster system. The AFP suggested they could put more officers on the street and have more vehicles on patrol if they could change the way they were delivering their services. The AFPA, the police union, worked very closely with the authorities in the AFP to ensure that members were listened to. And well done to the AFP for coming up with a practical solution to the problem of getting officers back out onto the street, but there still is a problem with numbers.

Of course, we all remember the promise at the start of the Stanhope term that they would get to a national average of officers. That has never been met. We get press release after press release from the minister about the graduating classes. Any officer who graduates is welcomed, but we are never told the other side: how many resignations? How many transfers? And what are the real numbers? We can pin them down to one day a year, normally, as to what the real numbers available for duty in the ACT are. I think that is a shame because it does fly in the face of the commitment to be, as we quote so often, “more honest, more open and more accountable”.

The real shame is that there is a loss of faith from the ordinary person in the ACT about their personal safety. There are concerns out there about the neighbourhood, where they live and what is going on. There are concerns about police response times. Some of this might be unfounded but the perception is that this government have ignored policing, and they have ignored it for many of the years that they have been in office and they have not given the force the tools that they have asked for.

You have only to look back, Mr Assistant Speaker, to when we reformed the Bail Act in 2001. There were all sorts of doubts thrown around the place. Ms Tucker said that it would not make a difference; nothing was going to happen. While we were debating the reforms to the Bail Act, the police were conducting Operation Anchorage, which I directed them to do, with a target of dropping the burglary rate by 19 per cent, which was the number we had agreed on. Indeed, we achieved a 37 per cent result. It was a fantastic result because we gave the police the tools and then we backed them up with the legislation to make sure they had the force of law that they needed to stop the

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