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Police Amendment Bill 2009

Extract from Hansard: Wednesday, 14 October 2009

MS A.S. CARLES (Fremantle) [1.46 pm]: I rise to also make some concluding comments on the Police Amendment Bill 2009, and to say that of course the Greens (WA) support the principle of the auxiliary police officers. We note that in other jurisdictions it has been successfully implemented. However, I support the opposition’s comments that we simply have not limited the functions and obligations of these officers in the legislation. We could have looked at the Victorian protective service officers, whose legislation specifically limits their role and function. Unfortunately, this bill places a very wide-ranging obligation on these police auxiliary officers through new section 38H(1)(a), which provides that they will hold all the powers of police officers and that they may exercise all the duties and obligations of police officers. However, new section 38I(1) states that police auxiliary officers are not members of the police force. To me it is absolutely flawed that we say on one hand that we will give the auxiliary officers those obligations and extraordinary powers over private citizens, without appropriate training and pay, yet we also say that they will not be members of the police force and will not receive the benefits, entitlements, training and protection for police officers. Therefore, there are big risks. There is the risk that we can exploit very committed police auxiliary officers who will take up the slack and do all the work of police officers without the benefits and the pay. There is also the risk of overzealous policing by untrained auxiliaries who think that they are police officers. I am very concerned that they will be dealing with Aboriginal people on the front line, and I ask the Minister for Police whether any thought was given to cross-cultural training of these auxiliaries.
Ms M.M. Quirk: A day and a half, member.
Ms A.S. CARLES: One day and a half.
Ms M.M. Quirk: That is for everyone—Aboriginals, Muslims and everyone else.
Ms A.S. CARLES: Therefore, I am very concerned about the lack of training.
Mr R.F. Johnson: I think that would be enough.
Ms M.M. Quirk: Did the minister say that should be enough?
Mr R.F. Johnson: I would have thought so, yes, given the limited capacity that the auxiliary officers would be performing in.
Ms A.S. CARLES: But in the legislation, minister, there is not a limited capacity, as we know. That is what this entire debate has been about.
Mr R.F. Johnson: You haven’t listened to the debate at all!
Ms A.S. CARLES: I have actually; I have been listening to the debate. I was in this place until half past midnight. We have been listening and unfortunately it is lazy legislation. The roles and functions of police auxiliary officers could have been properly identified in the bill and limited so that there were not these problems.
Another issue is the use of Tasers. We consulted with the Western Australian Police Union about this. I understand that the police auxiliary officers will be carrying out specific tasks of managing people held in custody at the Perth watch-house and that the auxiliary officers will have the use of Tasers. Is this correct, minister?
Mr R.F. Johnson: That would be a question for the commissioner. I think his view is that, in the Perth watch-house and those areas where custodial officers—not fully sworn, fully trained police officers—are in place at the moment, if those officers need to have a Taser, they will be given one, but they will be given full training in the use of Tasers. It will be the same training as fully sworn, fully trained police officers get.
Ms A.S. CARLES: I would say that only police officers, with their training and expertise, should be given that kind of power.
Mr R.F. Johnson: That is your view; that is fine.
Ms A.S. CARLES: Yes, that is my view.
Mr R.F. Johnson: Do you think that police officers should use Tasers?
Ms A.S. CARLES: That is not what I am debating. I am talking about the auxiliary police officers.
Mr R.F. Johnson: But do you?
Ms A.S. CARLES: I am not talking about that now.
Mr R.F. Johnson: I’m just asking the question.
Ms A.S. CARLES: We will talk about that when it is relevant. Right now I am talking about the auxiliary police officers.
Mr R.F. Johnson: I suspect that you don’t, my friend.
Ms A.S. CARLES: I am not getting into that at the moment. I am talking about the auxiliary officers and their roles and powers. That is what is relevant to the third reading debate; that is, how far they will be allowed to go. If they are to be allowed to use Tasers, that will be going too far, given the limited training that they will receive.
(Several members interjected)
Ms A.S. CARLES: I can see that the government thinks this is a bit of a joke. I am very concerned about the powers. I am very concerned about the workers’ rights aspect as well and that we are creating a second-class category of police officers, and that is not fair to the police service.

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