Andrew Barr’s old and tired government has its priorities wrong.
While the Barr Government focuses on land deals that benefit fellow travellers of the Labor movement, they wilfully turn a blind eye to the serious crime problems emerging on our streets.
An alarming increase in robberies and theft has left many of our local businesses in shock. In the past 12 months alone, our local clubs have been broken into or robbed on more than 25 occasions, while more than 75 other local businesses have also been victims of similar crimes.
The latest Annual Report on policing confirmed what many are seeing on our streets: robbery has gone up 53 per cent in 12 months, including a frightening 27 per cent increase to armed robbery.
The massive increase in robbery is an important issue to many Canberrans who no longer feel safe in their own suburbs. But despite the community’s concerns, Police Minister Mick Gentleman dismissively maintains that “crime statistics go up and down”. When asked if he planned to visit any victims of this crime, the Minister responded: “I am not sure that it would be appropriate at a ministerial level to take that sort of action.”
This is far from the attitude the Minister should have when he is part of a government that seems incapable of solving the increasing crime problem in Canberra. The reality is, Minister Gentleman and the Barr government is overseeing a police force that is being deprived of the necessary resources to meet a growing demand for their services.
Since 2011-12, funding for ACT Policing has increased by just five per cent, while in the same period, inflation has gone up eight per cent and Canberra’s population growth has gone up 11.2 per cent. This is a cut to funding in real terms. And crime continues to rise.
Our police force has fallen behind the rest of the country on other metrics. ACT Policing received approximately $393 per capita, which is lower than all other states and the Northern Territory. Furthermore, there are 580 citizens for every frontline police officer in the ACT, a much larger workload than the 450 citizens per frontline officer in NSW or the 432 citizens per frontline officer in Victoria.
The number of full-time equivalent frontline officers is presently at 684, down from a high of 719 only six years ago. A cut of 35 frontline officers. Put simply, the Barr Government continually expects our police to do more with less.
The individuals in our police force do an outstanding job in spite of a 17-year-old government that does not seem to care about them. However, the practice of relying on the good nature of the men in women of our police force to do more with less cannot last. Our police need and deserve much more than what they are getting from this government.
Perhaps if the Labor-Greens government wasn’t signing off on scandalous multimillion dollar land deals that have no benefit to the Canberra community, then ACT Policing might get the backing it desperately needs.