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Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Page: 6176

Mr HAYES (4:03 PM) —Today I rise to show my support for the declaration made in the New South Wales government budget today of $10 million to provide tasers to all front-line police officers in New South Wales. Putting tasers into the hands of police officers who need them most will save lives. The benefits will be enormous. This will mean that fewer families will lose loved ones and fewer police officers will have to live with the knowledge that they have taken a life. As the CEO of the Police Federation of Australia, Mark Burgess, said recently, too many officers who have served on the front line know what it is like to have discharged their firearm, knowing that it could amount to the taking of somebody’s life. Regrettably, tasers have far too often been locked up in police stations rather than being in the hands of those who need them most. From talking regularly to police and police unions across the country I know that it is impossible for police to anticipate when critical incidents will occur, and that is why this move to provide front-line police with tasers is so critical.

We have seen enough events recently that clearly demonstrate the need for the use of tasers in the police force. Only last month police shot dead a knife-wielding man in Armidale. There was also the tragic shooting of the 15-year-old Tyler Cassidy in a Victorian skate park last year. Tyler’s mum, Shani, has consistently said that Tyler’s death could have been averted if officers were equipped with tasers. It must be remembered that tasers are the less than lethal option and will reduce the number of offenders being killed by police. In New South Wales tasers have been trialled by specialist units now for a number of years and have been available for senior front-line officers. People are already getting used to the idea of tasers, and the mere sight of a taser has been enough to resolve conflict in 55 per cent of the cases when it has been pulled from a holster.

We know that policing is a dangerous occupation and the risks are always going to be high. However, providing police with tasers will not only save lives but also help dramatically decrease the number of assaults on police officers. There are many studies here and abroad that show that reduction of violent confrontations with offenders as well as assaults on police has directly resulted from the introduction of tasers—by up to about 93 per cent in some jurisdictions. In Western Australia it is indicated that there has been a decline of 40 per cent in assault on police officers since tasers have been introduced. If that were translated into New South Wales, it would mean up to 1,440 fewer assaults on police officers. Finally, again, I congratulate the New South Wales government on taking this stand. This is putting these weapons in the hands of officers who need them. It will also do much to protect the community. As a consequence, I lend my support. (Time expired)