Working together to protect our future

With the coronavirus pandemic response stripping police resources and blowing out overtime, its no surprise there was little to celebrate in this years COVID-stricken NT Budget.

The Territorys bleak balance sheet was outlined by Chief Minister Michael Gunner, in his first Budget as Treasurer, on Tuesday 10 November 2020.

The Government was already trying to claw its way out of a vast financial abyss, when the global pandemic struck, and the level of debt the NT is now headed towards is mind-numbing.

Were staring down the barrel of a decade of deficits, and a $16 billion debt by 2029-30.

The Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services (NTPFES) Budget, overall, has been beefed up by some $38.5million compared to the last financial year largely due to the agencys COVID-19 response.

Our members, along with doctors, nurses and teachers have shouldered the bulk of the COVID-19 response and we welcome the governments investment in additional police and support staff to meet these demands.

The government had already announced a commitment of $20million for 131 additional officers and support staff, and committed an additional $10.5million in the Budget for police to maintain their presence at Border Control Points. The initial $20million commitment includes the following:
- 66 additional Constables
- 30 Aboriginal Liaison Officers (ALO)
- 10 Aboriginal Community Police Officers (ACPO), and;
- 25 Support Staff

But much more needs to be done. When Labor began recruiting Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors, a role the NTPA maintains should be a licensing function not a police function as recommended in the Riley Review, the recruitment of Constables essentially ground to a halt. In fact, there was a 12-month period where we didnt have a single Constable squad go through the College and the department has been playing catch up ever since.

The promise of 131 police and support staff from this government will actually only deliver 46 additional Constables. The 66 additional frontline Constables include 20 transitioning Auxiliaries and Aboriginal Community Police Officer positions, and there will need to be further recruitment to fill those gaps.

In August, September and October we saw ten officers a month leaving the force through resignation or retirement. Unfortunately, the department does not have a formal exit interview system in place, so we dont have an accurate picture on why so many are calling it quits.