Police Numbers

Photo of motorcycle police
20 November 2018

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) (15:27:31): My motion should be accorded priority because the people of New South Wales should be reminded that at the 2019 election they have a clear choice on law and order and crime. Governments have a clear duty under their social contract to keep their citizens safe and free from crime. But Labor has a black heart when it comes to crime and law and order. As we are debating this motion the serious context in which this debate is being conducted includes two former Labor Ministers, Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald, and a former Labor member of Parliament, Milton Orkopoulos, lying in jail today convicted of serious crimes.

Six NSW Labor members of Parliament have been found corrupt by the Independent Commission Against Corruption [ICAC] including, Eddie Obeid, Ian Macdonald, Tony Kelly, Joe Tripodi, Angela D'Amore and Karyn Paluzzano. By contrast, no Liberal member of Parliament in the history of ICAC has been found corrupt in the performance of his or her duties as a State member of Parliament. This is not the only reason why the Australian Labor Party [ALP] has trouble dealing with crime. The ALP is the political wing of the union movement which has an apparent problem with the rule of law. Australian Council of Trade Unions Secretary Sally McManus said in 2017 about obeying the law:

I believe in the rule of law where the law is fair and the law is right but when it's unjust, I don't think there's a problem with breaking it.

A major union backer of the State ALP, the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union [CFMMEU] has been fined $8.2 million for breaches of the law since 2003, committing more than 100 offences. Suggesting a link between the CFMMEU and organised crime is hardly difficult when that organisation has accumulated more than $90 million in assets in completely unexplained circumstances. In Victoria the State ALP systematically broke the law with its so-called red shirts group, and none of the Victorian members of Parliament, including the Attorney General, have agreed to be interviewed by the police. It is with this history of rampant lawlessness by the ALP that this motion examines the history of the Leader of the Opposition. I am not referring to his on-again, off-again appeal in 2017 after he was fined $880 for speeding and lost five demerit points; I am referring to the Leader of the Opposition's terrible record—there is no other word for it—as Minister for Police when he was part of that stinking, corrupt Labor Government with Eddie Obeid, Ian Macdonald, Tony Kelly and Joe Tripodi.

Priority

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) (15:39:43): I move:

That this House:

(1)Notes that as Minister for Police, the member for Maroubra lost control of law and order across New South Wales.

(2)Recognises that during his time as Minister for Police, offences across 16 key categories increased.

(3)Remembers the now Leader of the Opposition closed nine police stations across the State.

(4)Recalls the Auditor-General found that New South Wales police were understaffed by 489 officers under the member for Maroubra's time in charge.

(5)Acknowledges today's announcement by the Government to deliver an extra 1,500 police.

When I gave notice of this motion to be accorded priority, the Leader of the Opposition cavilled with the propositions of fact it contained. That surprises me because I have documents in front of me that make good all of those propositions, and I will read them onto the record in due course. As I said when seeking to have my motion accorded priority, the Opposition has a real problem with law and order and reducing the rate of crime. Its history is akin to that of an outlaw motorcycle gang rather than a major political party. There is no doubt that when the Leader of the Opposition was the Minister for Police he lost control of law and order across New South Wales. In contrast, paragraph (5) of my motion states that the Coalition Government today announced that over the next four years it will appoint 1,500 new police officers That is in addition to the 1,000 new appointments over the past eight years.

That is in stark contrast to the lamentable statistics when the member for Maroubra was the Minister for Police. I remind the House that the Leader of the Opposition was the Minister from September 2009 until March 2011, except for about four days in December 2010 during the chaotic period of Labor administration when it changed Premiers. The NSW Police Force issues annual reports that list the number of police stations. In 2009‑10, the report stated that there were 435 police stations. The 2010-11 report states there were 426 police stations, which is a decrease of nine police stations when the member for Maroubra was the Minister for Police. The Auditor-General's report to Parliament in 2010, volume 8, page 87, notes that at 30 June 2010, during the term of the member for Maroubra as the Minister, there were 489 fewer police officers than the authorised full-time equivalent positions; that is, the number of police officers had decreased by 489.

Over 12 years the Coalition Government will create 1,500 new police officer positions and during the first 12 months that the member for Maroubra was the Minister for Police there was a decrease of 489 police officers. That is a stark contrast. I know people can have short memories, but I do not think any victim of crime would forget about the tenure of the Leader of the Opposition as the Minister for Police, given the crime statistics at the time. I refer to the statistics on page 11 of the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research 2011 report, which was the quarterly update to March 2011.

While he was Minister, domestic violence-related assaults went up by 1.2 per cent; harassment, threatening behaviour and private nuisance went up by 3 per cent; stock theft went up by 21.7 per cent; other theft went up by 1.4 per cent; possession of cannabis and/or use of cannabis went up by 11.1 per cent; possession and/or use of amphetamines went up by 23.9 per cent; possession and/or use of other drugs went up by 22.1 per cent; dealing and trafficking cannabis went up by 28.3 per cent; and dealing and trafficking amphetamines went up by 7.5 per cent. It is a terrible record of a terrible Minister.

 

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) (15:56:58): In reply: This may be the last time I speak while Deputy Speaker Thomas George is in the chair, so I wish you the very best for your retirement. We have again heard nothing but confected outrage from the member for Heffron, in respect of which he has completely ignored the words of the motion before this House. He has gone off on his usual tangent because he does not want to debate the fact of the lamentable performance of his leader when he was police Minister. He wants to go off on every tangent possible rather than address the motion that is before the House—the motion that the House, by majority, agreed would be debated.

The member for Heffron ignored that and went off on a tangent to talk about irrelevant matters. By the way, he completely ignored what the Police Association's president Mr King said today about the announcement. He said, "I am thrilled the Government has listened and worked with us to deliver 1,500 additional police, which is the largest increase in over 30 years." He also said:

This boost to operational capacity will ensure police are well supported and can maintain the sort of protection our community expects and deserves.

Those are not my words. Those are not the words of the police Minister. Those are the words of the president of the Police Association.

Before I finish I acknowledge the great performance of our police Minister over more than four years in that portfolio. I wish him the very best after today. The member for Fairfield said that this motion is about smear. The motion is not about smear: Government members have put to the House hard facts, which demonstrate a lamentable performance by Labor in the area of law and order when Labor was last in charge of this State.The Labor Government closed nine police stations, crime went up in 16 key offence categories and there were 489 fewer police officers under the watch of the Leader of the Opposition. These are hard statistics. They are statistics which the deflection and obfuscation by the member for Heffron cannot avoid.

It is regrettable that the member for Heffron talked about shameful management of the police. It is lamentable that he does not support our police officers—the most efficient and effective police force in Australia, as shown by the Productivity Commission report.