Page 3292 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 23 August 2017
Corrective services, despite all the problems we are experiencing at the jail, has an efficiency dividend of $240,000. The courts, which are under so much pressure, are subject to a $400,000 efficiency dividend and the Emergency Services Agency, $2,453,000. We know that that is on top of other cuts we have seen in important portfolio areas, such as the $15 million that was cut a few years ago from police. To cut such important areas when we are seeing crime statistics, visible indications of the crimes through outlaw motorcycle crime activity and so on, going the wrong way, is a very poor decision. I note that this is not the first time. The directorate as achieved progressive savings and efficiencies since 2010-11, and in 2016-17 the cumulative total of these savings and efficiencies for the directorate was approximately $21 million. That is $21 million cut out of this important area. It is no wonder we are seeing so many problems across so many of the functional areas within the JACS directorate.
In this budget it is $4.9 million of cuts. Where is it going to lead? We know that the community’s safety is being put at risk. We know that violent crime against the person is up. But what about the staff themselves? What about job cuts? This concerns me, because when the estimates committee raised these issues the response from the government was that there may be some reductions in employee expenses and that, “At this stage we are still working through that.” Where are the comrades now, Madam Speaker? Where are the comrades now looking after the workers? They are mute, because they are the ones doing the cutting. There may be a reclassification of positions in some instances. “Reclassification of positions” sounds like you are getting downgraded, does it not? So $3.9 million for the CFMEU’s building but, “We’re going to reclassify positions across JACS because we don’t have enough money. That’s something we are working through with the unions in particular cases.” The director-general noted the job cuts would be identified as the best way to achieve these efficiencies. I am very concerned that on top of the jobs that were cut from ACT Policing and real pressures across the JACS directorate we are going to see more pressures applied to the staff, particularly the frontline staff, in the JACS directorate.
Family violence is another area subject to the efficiency dividend from this government. We know from the DPP’s annual report that the number of family violence matters commenced was 701 for the year, up a staggering 37 per cent on the year before, while the number completed was 637, up 46 per cent. The latest ABS crime offender report showed that for domestic violence offences in Canberra in 2015-16, assaults increased by 43 per cent, property damage was up by 41 per cent, sexual assault or related offences was up from 40 per cent to 66 per cent and breach of non-violence orders was up from 49 per cent to 68 per cent. There is plenty of money for other projects, including money for the CFMEU’s building, but with all the statistics for family violence going up, funding for the JACS directorate is getting cut.
The DPP has stated the small increase for the family violence area of the office in the last budget was modest indeed and unfortunately will not compensate for the increase in work. One area for which a special levy was introduced was for safer families, and notwithstanding the pressures facing the community in family violence, that is subject to a cut as well.