Independent ACT Senate candidate David Pocock is throwing his support behind calls to increase the number of fully funded Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers to 8,500 by 2025 and other reforms to enhance capability and improve support.
The community-endorsed candidate said that while the Federal Government’s focus on defence and national security was welcome, they have overlooked what’s needed domestically to keep our communities safe.
“A strong, well-staffed and well-resourced AFP is absolutely critical to ensuring we are effective at tackling everything from organised crime to child exploitation and supporting regional security,” David said.
“In the ACT we also rely on the AFP for our community policing and a shortage of officers on the ground has been raised with me time and again across the Territory.
“The community has expressed concern about safety and ensuring we are investing in police, especially in our fast growing population centres.
“It’s appalling that the AFP is now the lowest paid police force in the country.
“It goes a long way to explaining why we have some 170 vacancies locally, exacerbating the existing frontline police officer shortages caused by Covid-19.
“Fully funding 8,500 AFP positions represents a 10 per cent increase. This is very modest, especially compared to the 30 per cent increase promised for the Australian Defence Force, but would have a huge impact on the ground.
“The federal government talks a lot about wanting to keep people safe, they need to follow through this rhetoric with action.”
David says that as a starting point the Federal Government should immediately exempt the AFP from the efficiency dividend which has already removed more than half a billion dollars from their operational budget.
David has also added his support to that of Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie in calling for the instatement of a “Blue card” mirroring the DVA “White card” for ADF personnel as the AFP Association has proposed.
“We need to do a much better job of looking after the people who have served our nation not only in the ADF but also in the AFP. Their service is equally meritorious, and they deserve our support,” says David.
“We need to be ensuring those who protect us receive the support and care they need, both on the job and after they retire.
“AFP pay and conditions need a serious overhaul, as do their equipment and facilities.”
David also pointed to the AFPA’s recommendations on firearm reforms as an area that had been largely neglected since the historic Howard era changes.
“What’s being proposed are some very simple, common-sense measures that would also go a long way to better protecting Australians,” David says.
“This week marks the 26th anniversary of the Port Arthur massacre yet we still don’t have a national firearms registry, which given our system of federated governance, is vitally important.
“Banning the import of ammunition for weapons that are already illegal to own in Australia is another obvious step the federal government could take.”
David also confirmed he would be open to further exploring the idea of constructing a new state-of-the-art AFP college on an existing site at Majura, funded by the sale of the current premises in Barton. This could operate as a national training centre of excellence with benefits for the local ACT economy.
“We’ve seen billions committed to new defence facilities, predominantly in marginal electorates around the country.
“A new AFP college in Canberra would be of tremendous benefit locally and to the AFP’s capacity to serve the entire Australian community.”