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|Mr MILLS (Opposition Leader): Madam Speaker, I move that the bill be now read a second time. In so doing, I seek leave to table the accompanying explanatory memorandum.|
Mr MILLS: Madam Speaker, our Police Force do an extraordinary job. Our Police Force work in some of the harshest places in the country. Our Police Force put up with challenges that are very unique to the Territory. Our Police Force are placed under ever growing pressure to do more with less, and a changing and at times challenging society. We know of some of the problems that are dealt with by our force. We know of the problems related to alcohol, problems relating to isolation, problems relating to disadvantage within the community, and the list goes on. Our officers are outstanding servants of the community, and so much so, we continue to see our officers turn up at very senior positions elsewhere in the country, whether in the force or post-force service. We have a force that has a great relationship with the public, and on that, I believe that more should be and could be done to continue to build this respect, especially through an expansion of programs like the school-based constables, but more on that another time.
It is appropriate that our officers are recognised for their service and, indeed, those officers that served through ten years of the service, service in the Territory, or as a member of our force, or secondment elsewhere, something that in itself should be recognised. There are, or soon will be, provisions to recognise national service in police forces for certain time markers, and that is appropriate to do so. I do not support the awarding of our service medal to officers that have spent a portion of that ten years’ service as a member of another jurisdiction’s police force. I am sorry to say this to those officers, but on that, I believe a national recognition is appropriate, and our service medal is for our coppers who serve the people of the Territory for ten years.
After being informed that a medal was awarded to another officer for joint service, I chose to bring forward this bill. In doing so, I took into consideration views of police officers current and past, views of the community and, of course, views of the police peak body, the Police Association. It is interesting to note that, in correspondence with the Police Association, that they have approached the Chief Minister and the Police minister on this matter and nothing has happened. This is the same Chief Minister who wants to talk relentlessly about how great he is at supporting the police force, well they are fine words, but where is the action? To add insult to injury, it was over a year ago, ahead of the last election, this Labor government promised they would do something about this matter, and here we are, over twelve months later, and what have we seen, nothing - talk about hot air.
Madam Speaker, in regard to the bill itself - the bill amends the amends the Police Administration Act, the bill amends the provisions associated with a period of service that could be considered towards the Police Service Medal. The purpose of these proposed provisions is that time served as a member of another jurisdiction’s police force cannot count towards the ten years’ service for the Police Service Medal. The specific amendments are as follows:
· clause 1 sets up a short title of the bill.
· clause 2 indicates that the act to be amended by this bill is the Police Administration Act.
· clause 3 amends the Section 166A and relates to the eligibility criteria for the Police Service Medal.
The Police Service Medal is to be awarded to members who have completed 10 continuous years’ service with the Northern Territory Police. The entire 10 years of service is to be with the NT Police Force, or on secondment to prescribed organisations such as the NT Police Association and the Australian Crime Commission, etcetera. The total period of 10 years can be broken by periods of unpaid leave, but that unpaid leave is not considered a part of the 10 years’ total service. If a member resigns before completing 10 years service and is subsequently reappointed as a member within two years of the date of his resignation, the Commissioner can consider the period of service prior to a resignation as part of the 10 years’ period for awarding the service medal.
The Country Liberals are strong supporters of the Police Force, and we will continue to strength our force and recognise the service of our force members, and there can be no doubt on that front because, on my team, I am proud to have people, good people, who know the experience of being members of our force and are proud to serve. This bill is a straightforward bill, but it is an important bill and one that members of this House should support. I commend the bill to the House, Madam Speaker.
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