The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS ( 15:10 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Police a question regarding the reduction in operating hours of the Salisbury Police Station.
The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: In response to a submission made by the City of Salisbury regarding SAPOL's organisational review, Assistant Commissioner Noel Bamford provided a brief letter to the council, which was accompanied by some interesting data regarding the operations of the Salisbury, Golden Grove and Holden Hill police stations. The current proposal for Salisbury Police Station is as follows, and I quote directly from the response:
Current business hours: 8.30am to 9.30pm, seven days a week.
Proposed business hours: 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Reasons for change:
The station is located 7.3 kilometres from Elizabeth Police Station…and 8.6 kilometres from Golden Grove Police Station.
Peak reporting times for this station start around lunchtime, with greater spikes apparent after school at 3pm to 4pm. A steady decrease in activity is evident after 6pm.
The letter even includes a helpful graph to show the levels of demand and where they compare to current operating hours and proposed operating hours. What becomes obvious from this document and the graph is that the period between 5pm—the proposed new closure time—and 7pm, according to SAPOL's own data, is one of the peak time periods for members of the public making reports at the Salisbury Police Station. It appears now that, if these reforms take place, the public during these times, will be turned away. Given this, my question is: does the minister consider it safe and reasonable to close Salisbury Police Station during periods of the day when the public need it and utilise it most?
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) ( 15:12 ): I thank the honourable member for his question and note his ongoing interest in the Salisbury Police Station. The first thing, is this: the police commissioner is in the process of reviewing police station hours. No final decision has been made and no decision to adjust hours as a result of this review, at any police station, has been implemented. So let's wait and see the way this review unfolds. The second thing is that the police commissioner very recently opened up, to the whole of the South Australian public, the opportunity to be able to contribute to the police station hours review. The first step in the process was to engage active, interested policy leaders within the community, not least of which every member of the state parliament, including local government, to be able to make a contribution to that hours review, and a number have.
The second step is to engage the whole South Australian public. There was an advertisement in The Advertiser recently, asking any member of the South Australian public to make a contribution to the police station hours review. That process remains in train, but nothing yet has been implemented in respect to police station hours in the state of South Australia.
What is important to remember is that there is a distinction between administrative operating hours within police stations and active police stations in regard to normal police functions, the sort of ones that I think the South Australian public hold most dear. So, for instance, there is distinction between walking in through the front of a police station and registering a firearm, there is a distinction between that function at a police station versus the fact that there might be an active patrol base, where if someone calls 000 to get assistance in an emergency, a patrol is still dispatched from that station. I am advised that, under the review, in respect to the Salisbury Police Station there is no suggestion that it will stop becoming a 24 hours a day, seven days a week active patrol base. That means that it will still remain an active, 24 hours a day, seven days a week police station.
There is a separate question though about whether or not someone will be able to walk through the front door and register a firearm or report a collision or something of that nature. The question that one has to ask themselves if they are going to start asking venom-laden questions of me, vis-a-vis the police commissioner, is: does that honourable member think it would be a good idea to have a person sitting in a police station at 3 o'clock in the morning just in case someone comes in to do an administrative function like report a collision that occurred earlier that day or register a firearm? Would they prefer that person sitting in there twiddling their thumbs just in case someone walks in, or would they prefer that police officer out on the front line responding to issues as they arise?
I am not too sure if I have heard any suggestion from any member opposite that that is a good idea. I have not heard that yet. If they think that is a good idea, they should start putting it in the submissions that the police commissioner has called for. If they would prefer police officers sitting around at 3 o'clock in the morning performing administrative duties, they should come out and say it. If however they do not think that is a good idea, I suggest that they let the police commissioner get on with the job.
I think we should be thinking about whether or not, as a community, we want to back our police commissioner to make the appropriate judgement calls about what is the best utilisation of taxpayer-funded resources within SAPOL. I think the police commissioner has the interests of the South Australian public at heart when he makes decisions about his workforce and when they work. I back him in the effort to review it. He has not made any decisions yet. It is open for consultation. We look forward to people's contribution to the consultation.
I am not aware of whether or not the Hon. Mr Dawkins has made a submission in respect of the Salisbury Police Station. Maybe he can inform me across the chamber now. Has he made a written submission?
The Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins: I have an opportunity to ask you questions.
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS: It sounds as though the Hon. Mr Dawkins has not made a submission to the police station hours review. Have you made a submission to the police station?
The Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins: No, I haven't.
The PRESIDENT: Order!
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS: The Hon. Mr Dawkins has not even taken the time to make a contribution to the police commissioner's own police station hours review. Instead he just wants to ask questions in the vain hope that it might undermine the police commissioner's effort.
The Hon. D.W. Ridgway: I thought the arrogant responses would be gone today, but they are here, same as always.
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS: What I can say is that as a government, we support the police commissioner.
The PRESIDENT: Sit down.
The Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins: I have a supplementary question.
The PRESIDENT: Before you ask a supplementary question, have you finished your answer?
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS: No.
An honourable member interjecting:
The PRESIDENT: I think the arrogance is on all those people interjecting while he is trying to give his answer. Allow him to finish his answer. It is a very important issue we have here and a lot of views on it.
The Hon. K.J. Maher interjecting:
The PRESIDENT: The Leader of the Government will desist. Allow the minister to finish his answer without interjection. Minister.
The Hon. D.W. Ridgway: All he is trying to do is blow out the two minutes.
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS: I am more than happy to sit down within the next two minutes to ensure that the Hon. Mr Dawkins can ask his supplementary question, but I will acknowledge the contribution of the Hon. Tung Ngo, who has taken the time to actually write to the police commissioner's police station hours review, so I applaud the Hon. Mr Tung Ngo for that effort.
Of course, we want to make sure that the police commissioner has all the information available to him to be able to make informed decisions. We do not want these decisions to be influenced by politics. We want the police commissioner to be able to make the decisions that he thinks are appropriate to ensure that South Australian police force resources are best utilised to protect the South Australian public.