MINI-BUDGET: POLICE FORCE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS FUNDING
The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER:
I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Police. How many New South Wales Police Force information technology and communications projects will be cancelled as a result of the $15 million per annum reduction in funding for IT in the 2008-09 mini-budget? Given that the allocation in the 2008-09 budget for new major IT and communications upgrades was just under $17 million, will new radio communications and mobile phone interception equipment purchases be delayed, deferred or cancelled as a result of the mini-budget? Given the intensive nature of information technology forensic work, and that the forensic information management system and the forensic services digital imaging system announced in 2006 have still not been delivered, what will be the impact on these projects of the reduction in New South Wales Police IT and communications spending? How will the four-year, $74 million upgrade of the core operating policing systems, known as COPS, be affected by the reduction in New South Wales Police IT spending?
The Hon. TONY KELLY:
The honourable member's question gives me the opportunity to inform the House what has happened in the mini-budget. Our front-line police deliver an outstanding service and the Rees Government will continue to provide them with the resources they need to do their job. On Tuesday the Treasurer announced a mini-budget that is tough, decisive and addresses the challenges before the State, a mini-budget that will keep our financial position strong. Today I reiterate what I said earlier this week: front-line police resources have been quarantined from any savings measures in the mini-budget. Further, the Government will meet our Police election commitments. We went to the election with the promise of putting more police on the beat across New South Wales and I am determined to see us deliver on that promise for the people of New South Wales.
We will deliver on our commitment of an additional 750 police officers by increasing police numbers this year from 15,236 to 15,956 by December 2011. We will also deliver on our commitment in relation to 30 police stations across the State, in the country and the city. Since the election we have opened police stations at Campsie, St Marys, Corrimal and Yamba, and in the past few months new police have gone to stations at Fairfield, Lismore, Orange and Dubbo. They are yet to be officially opened. Over the next three years the Rees Government is on track to open another nine new stations across New South Wales. It does not stop there. We will also start work on a further nine stations and commence planning work for new stations at Parramatta, Bowral, Coffs Harbour and Parkes.
The New South Wales Police Force continually examines the efficiency of its administration and non-operational programs. It does this to make sure funding is delivered to where it is needed—the front line. Like many government agencies the New South Wales Police Force has a longstanding program for the disposal of non-operational assets and property. The mini-budget confirms the continuation of this program over the next four years with the accelerated sale of properties no longer needed for police operations. This program is expected to deliver an additional $8 million over the next four years, which is funding that will be used for the maintenance of and improvements to operational assets. We will use the $8 million to partially offset the $5 million reduction in building works. The $8 million will be allocated as $2 million per year over four years.
The mini-budget reduced general funds available for future information and communication technology programs from $50 million per year to $35 million per year. This will not impact on the delivery of any existing programs. The article in today's Australian Financial Review
is wrong. The mini-budget includes a reduction in funding of $15 million a year for information and communication technology. This will not impact on the delivery of any existing approved programs as the funding reduction applies to future general funds not committed to existing projects. The New South Wales Police Force will continue to spend $35 million each year on providing front-line police with the information technology they need to do their job, with projects that include: closed circuit television database and evidence analysis; enhanced data exchange capability; forensic information management systems; Justicelink; mobile data terminal upgrades; portable electronic fingerprint devices; forensic services digital imaging; virtual firearms simulator; asset confiscation computer system; and asset refresh program. The mini-budget is about ensuring that we deliver on our commitment to boosting police numbers, opening new police stations and supporting our front-line police. Let me make it clear: The New South Wales Police Force continues to closely examine the efficiency of its administration and non-operational programs. [Time expired.]
The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER:
I ask the Minister a supplementary question. Will the Minister please elucidate exactly what projects or programs the $15 million savings will involve? He was clear in what he said about what will not be touched. Will he tell us what will be touched in the $15 million savings?
The Hon. TONY KELLY:
I made it quite clear that none of the existing programs would be touched. It is future general money.