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AFP funding in crisis - tough on drugs a failure



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SENATOR THE HON NICK BOLKUS SHADOW ATTORNEY GENERAL SHADOW MINISTER FOR JUSTICE LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

MEDIA RELEASE

No. 2/98 25 January 1998

AFP FUNDING IN CRISIS - TOUGH ON DRUGS A FAILURE 'TZfp.

"The funding and staffing levels o f the Australian Federal Police are at crisis levels," Shadow Attorney-General, Senator Nick Bolkus said today. "And the Government Tough on Drugs strategy has been proven to be a complete failure when the Commonwealth's most senior law enforcement officer says that the extra money provided has simply not been enough."

Senator Bolkus' statement followed a report in today's Sun-Herald in which AFP Commissioner Mick Palmer admitted that a lack o f financial and staff resources meant that many drug and money laundering investigations, with good prospects o f success, were either being rejected or deferred.

"The 'cut first think later' policies o f the Howard Government are proving disastrous and there is no better example than is the case with the Australian Federal Police," Senator Bolkus said.

"When Labor was in Government we settled a funding arrangement with the AFP which ensured that it had the funds needed to get the job done. But that arrangement has been thrown out o f the window by the Howard Government through its mindless penny-pinching."

"As a result, Australia and Australians are becomingly increasingly vulnerable targets to international drug-dealers, paedophiles and organised criminals."

"We have repeatedly warned the Federal Government over the last 18 months that their cutbacks would create these problems. But they have consistently ignored our advice. It gives the Opposition no joy to see our concerns become reality."

The Howard Government has cut $37.6 million from the AFP's budget over the last two years, and a total o f more than $225 million from our law enforcement agencies. Yet, the Tough on Drugs strategy only put $5.1 million a year o f the AFP's money back."

"The Government should immediately restore the AFP's Budget to 1995-96 levels and stop its plans to get rid the AFP of another 105 AFP officers. The Howard Government got rid o f a further 105 officers in the previous financial year (210 in total)."

"Further, cuts to other crime fighting organisations such as the National Crime Authority and the Australian Customs Service should also be reversed immediately."

Contact: Simon Banks Ph: (02) 6277 3388 (bh) or 0419 638 587 (m); Fax: (02) 6277 3062

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