Page 1671 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 13 May 2015

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They can cut hospital beds—60 hospital beds—and say, “Don’t worry; that still has capacity.” And they are going to cut police resources and say that it is not going to have any effect. But that is not true. The Australian Federal Police Association have made that very clear. In 2013, when this was all happening, they said:

If the savings of some $15.3 million can’t be achieved from trimming the cost of administering and equipping ACT Policing then the very real fear is that police numbers may suffer.

I think that we are seeing the impact of that flowing through. If direct police jobs are not being cut then what you will see is that those police who are at the front line, who we want out on our streets, will be dragged back into the system to do the support role and the administration that is being cut. Whichever way you do it, you either lose the police numbers or you lose the police numbers in effect because they are no longer on the street; they are back doing the admin jobs that have been cut.

In typical Labor fashion, just as we see the negotiations now with the Australian teachers union, what did the Labor Party say about the AFPA when they raised what were legitimate concerns? Mr Corbell, who was the minister then, said:

The Australian Federal Police Association are being alarmist …

The Federal Police Association are concerned about the safety of their members and about making sure that we have adequate police numbers on the street. When they raise legitimate concerns, it is dismissed as “alarmist”. It has echoes of Ms Burch, who has described the Education Union as “just playing politics 101”. That is the sort of arrogant attitude that we have seen from the government as they cut police funding and they cut hospital beds.

Mr Gellatly from the AFPA said compounding government cuts was putting pressure on staff numbers. He talked about the fact that policing numbers have fallen to the lowest level of all Australian police forces—221 per 100,000. Per capita, we have the lowest number of police in the nation, and this government, this minister, is cutting them further. The AFPA has called on the government to drop the savings measures and ensure that ACT police staffing numbers are not cut.

We have the nurses union saying, “Don’t cut the hospital beds,” and we have the police association saying, “Don’t cut the police,” while those opposite in the government are cutting hospital beds, cutting funding to the police and spending hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars on a tram. It is just bizarre that they would be doing this.

The view that you cannot cut ACT Policing without affecting police numbers is not just my view. It is something that has been put forward by the experts—by the front-line people and those representing them. Again, Mr Gellatly is reported as saying:

… this won’t mean police or supporting staff won’t be affected elsewhere, and of course for police to do their job on the frontline we need plenty of people on the back end doing other jobs, too.

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