Police bar Labor, opt to back Liberals

THE POLICE Association has formally thrown its support behind the Liberal Party after barring the government from its conference.

Delegates at the Police Association of Tasmania conference in Hobart yesterday voted for a motion expressing support for the opposition's policy of rebuilding police numbers to pre-budget cut levels of 1228.

Opposition Leader Will Hodgman told the conference his policy would see 108 additional police officers recruited over four years and costing $33 million.

But Mr Hodgman could not say whether the extra funding would see single-officer stations like Avoca re-opened, and could not rule out the loss of public sector staff, who work in police support, as part of his broader plan to cut 500 public service jobs to make budget savings.

Mr Hodgman told Police Association delegates he would make no promises for higher wages or improved workers compensation provisions, saying, "I'm not in the business of making promises I can't keep."

Police Association President Pat Allen said the motion of support did not mean the association was politically aligned.

Relations between the association and Police Minister David O'Byrne crumbled in late 2012, when the association moved a motion of no confidence against him.

Their last correspondence, in November, ended with Constable Allen saying he did not want to talk.

Mr O'Byrne was barred from yesterday's conference but Constable Allen said the association's refusal to speak to him shouldn't stop him writing to them if he had any "meaningful suggestions".

"For David O'Byrne to come out sooking saying he wants to talk to us - well, too bad, too bad, he's done nothing meaningful, nothing meaningful to change our executive's mind in relation to the vote of no confidence," Constable Allen said.

Mr O'Byrne said the silent treatment was an "unusual" strategy for a union to deploy.

"Pat Allen ran on a union election campaign of kicking the government," he said.

"Well tick, that's great, well done, congratulations; but how have you made your members lives better by refusing to meet with the government and with the people that can actually make your members' lives better?"

The government has committed to an establishment force of 1120 and reopened police recruiting last year. Mr O'Byrne said he would release the full police policy closer to the election.

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