Sleight of hand state budget: Tasmania police union

THE police union has both applauded and slammed the state government over its first budget in 16 years.

On Thursday Treasurer Peter Gutwein revealed $33 million for new police officers but at the same time demanded $42.2 million in cuts.

Overall, estimates have the police budget increasing 10 per cent over four years to $225 million.

Police Association of Tasmania president Pat Allen called it a "sleight of hand" budget.

"For the government to give Tasmania Police $33 million with one hand and take away $42 million with the other makes little sense," he said yesterday.

"The budget cuts increase the possibility of support staff positions being reduced and operational members being utilised in these roles - this is against the spirit of increasing numbers by 108 over for four years."

Police Minister Rene Hidding responded that more than a third of $7.5 million in spending cuts for 2014-15 would come from a wage freeze.

Changes in how the State Emergency Service reports and a corporate services review of the department would deliver the rest.

He said the SES shake-up had received the "warm support of the emergency services community".

Constable Allen hit out at other government agencies which go over budget while police routinely meet theirs but still have their allocations slashed.

Tasmania Police suffered large cuts under the former government resulting in 75 redundancies, the merger of some commands and the rotation of detectives and prosecutors onto front-line roles.

"There is little doubt that the creation of bureaucratic empires is alive and well in some other agencies," he said.

Constable Allen supported the government pledge to restore police numbers to 1228 officers, which will attract more than $3 million this year, and the purchase of a large police boat within two years for some $5 million.

Constable Allen foreshadowed the tough road ahead for the government to get its budget saving centrepiece - the pay freeze - through.

He said officers typically didn't claim their full benefits under the police award but had now started claiming "their rightful entitlements" to offset the cuts.


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