Yesterday’s Budget and Finance Committee saw further evidence given that the Weatherill Government will not come anywhere near meeting its ‘Recruit 300’ police election promise.
Projected police numbers for 2017-18, provided by Police to the Committee, identify that there will be 4,421.1 sworn officers, plus 36 community constables, and 188 police cadets – a total of 4,645.1.
“On these figures, Labor will be delivering only 18 more sworn officers than we had in 2010 – and even if we were including cadets which were never included in the original promise, there is only an increase of 129, well short of the 313 target,” said Shadow Police Minister John Gardner.
“The Weatherill Labor Government still pretending that it will meet its promise of ‘300 more police on our streets’ is becoming a farce. Whenever Minister Piccolo pretends this promise is on track he sounds like Monty Python’s pet shop owner claiming that the dead parrot is still alive.
“At two successive elections, and two by-elections, South Australia’s community was promised 300 more police on the beat to ensure safer streets. It’s not going to happen and it’s time to apologise.”
Labor’s original promise, made prior to the 2010 election, was for ‘300 more police on our streets over the next four years.’ 13 transit police were subsequently included, bringing the total to 313.
In the 2013-14 Budget the 2014 deadline was extended to 2018. Last September Minister Piccolo announced that cadets would be included in counting – despite previously saying that “the understanding is that it is 313 additional sworn officers, not cadets or community constables”.
Last October the Auditor-General warned the Government was falling 129 short, but Minister Piccolo reconfirmed: “as far as I’m concerned we’re on target to meet that commitment and that promise.”
“Yesterday’s evidence has blown Labor’s promises out of the water. While 42 of the shortfall is explained by the Commissioner’s decision to transfer custody management from sworn officers to civilian staff, even taking that into account Labor is left well short,” Mr Gardner said.
“This promise has been extended by four years, the count has been twisted to include cadets, the wording has been changed to take into account the transfer of some duties to unsworn officers – and they still can’t get the figures to show them getting anywhere near 313 extra police.
“This is a broken promise plain and simple, and it is time for the Weatherill Labor Government to admit it and apologise to the people of South Australia.”