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Too little too late

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Wayne Sievers

Australian Democrats No.2 Senate Candidatej Australian Capital Territory

17 September 1998 MEDIA RELEASE


1 Howard’s War on Drugs - Former AFP Officer P r

ACT Democrat Senate candidate Wayne Sievers, a former Federal Police officer, today attacked the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday of a $72 million expansion of the government’s antiĀ­ drugs strategy.

“It’s a case of too little too late and does not repair the damage done by the Howard Government during its term in office to the Australian Federal Police. An extra patrol boat in the Torres Strait means nothing if there is no one left to investigate the drug traffickers.”

Mr. Sievers said that Coalition budget cuts to the AFP had severely weakened the Australian Federal Police's ability to stop heroin pouring into Australia.

“The Howard Government talks about being good for business but when Australia’s premier law enforcement agency is crippled then this government is good for businesses I don’t want to see succeed - the business of importing narcotics, the business of child pornography and pedophilia, the business of white collar and computer crime. With the approaching Olympics the business of terrorism should also be given no room to ply their deadly trade. The business of armed robbery and burglary has also boomed in Canberra, where the AFP is the local community police service.”

Mr. Sievers said that only a properly funded and resourced AFP can curtail these criminal enterprises.

“The $65 million the Prime Minister announced some months ago as being returned to the AFP budget has not even been seen by the AFP as yet. Funding for federal law enforcement agencies has in fact been slashed by $270 million under the coalition government. The government’s voodoo accounting methods have had no impact on the law enforcement front line.”

Mr. Sievers stated that the AFP was an organisation in crisis where morale had sunk to the point of despair. As a result of this members were leaving as fast as they could find other employment. The mass resignation some weeks ago of the entire computer crime team is symptomatic of this situation. Almost 200 members had left in the last 12 months with current attrition rate being about

13 per month. Many locations where the AFP operates are now down to as low as a third of their staffing levels in recent years.

“What the government has done is like kicking someone in the teeth and then offering them dental floss.” Mr. Sievers said. Mr. Sievers said he would be raising the matter directly with the Democrats law and justice spokesperson, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja.

FOR FURTHER COMMENT Call Wayne Sievers 041 980 0841 or Jason Blaine 0416 358 421

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