TASMANIA's Public Order Response Team would be rebuilt to a strength of 47 dedicated police officers under a Liberal Government, Opposition Leader Will Hodgman announced today.
The team was cut in half and merged with the traffic division last year to form Road and Public Order Services, in response to pressure from the State Government for police to reduce their budget.
Opposition Leader Will Hodgman said the Liberals would increase the number of PORT officers by 23, bringing it back up to the pre-2011 figures, if elected in March.
Mr Hodgman said the move would cost $7 million and would be funded out of $500 million savings identified by the Liberals - a figure the Government say could only be achieved by making massive cuts to the public service in other areas.
It's the third significant law and order announcement the opposition has made, after establishing a 14-person Serious and Major Crimes Squad and continued funding to youth rehabilitation program U-Turn, and brings its extra anti-crime spending commitments to $12.2 million over four years.
PORT is a high-visibility police taskforce that patrols nightspots like central Launceston and Salamanca in Hobart with the aim of reducing alcohol-fuelled violence.
Police Association President Pat Allen and Tasmanian Hospitality Association chief executive Pat Allen said the squad had effectively reduced violence on Tasmanian streets, but that was starting to creep up again.
The number of public place assaults in the 12 months to October 30 this year was up 10 per cent on last year, with 270 offences recorded, but still below the three-year average of 288 and the target maximum of 330.
Both Mr Allen and Mr Old have campaigned for the reinstatement of PORT teams and supported today's announcement.