Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Premier rules out SA police budget top-up

The Premier has ruled out any top-up funds for the South Australian police budget.

Police and Finance Minister Michael O'Brien earlier told reporters police were likely to struggle to meet their $150 million savings target.

He spoke of possibly approaching Treasury for budget relief if the force was to meet a Government pledge to recruit hundreds of extra officers.

Mr Weatherill, who is also Treasurer, said he would not be providing police with a budget top-up.

"We'll be insisting on the savings targets, but the position I made the other day is very clear, that we'll also be pursuing the increase in police numbers that we're committed to," he said.

Mr Weatherill conceded recruitment might be slowed and said the Government's target was set to be achieved by 2016.

Mr O'Brien appears to have back-tracked on his earlier comment that a budget shortfall for police might see him ask Treasury for more money.

He now said he had been misunderstood and police could be entitled to 'modest' new funding if they put a proposal to the Government aimed at creating safer neighbourhoods.

It could well be that within that context, which is very, very specific, SAPOL come to us with a spending proposal that aligns with the safer neighbourhood proposition," he said.

"But, as for meeting their savings objectives, we are determined that all agencies will do what is required of them."


Police Commissioner Gary Burns said the budget savings target would have to be significantly reduced to guarantee police numbers.

Mr Burns said $60 million of the $150 million target still needed to be found.

He said it was putting in doubt 184 promised police positions, on top of 116 filled so far.

"The savings that we're expected to get can only come from removing police positions, particularly in the numbers to do with the increased numbers of 184 through R300 (recruitment target of 300)," he said.

The Police Association has urged the Government reduce its police savings target by $50 million, a sum it added to the original $100 million target last December.

Union official Mark Carroll said some small country police stations might be in the firing line.

"We'd want to make sure that if any police stations did close that there would be proper community consultation in relation to it," he said.

"[We hope] we wouldn't lose the resource and that may be relocated to a neighbouring station to increase the size of that station, as opposed to losing that resource in the country."

Monday, February 4, 2013

Conservatives Take on Obama Over Gay Scouts

A conservative group that wants the Boy Scouts to keep their ban on gays today released an ad apparently countering President Obama’s remarks this weekend urging the scouts to drop the ban.

“To compromise moral principles under political and financial pressure would teach the boys cowardice, not courage,” says the ad by the Family Research Council and a number of other religious and socially-conservative organizations.

In an interview aired Sunday before the Super Bowl, Obama expressed his hope that the ban would become a thing of the past.

“My attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunities, the same way  as everyone else does, in every institution and walk of life,” Obama told CBS’ Scott Pelley. “And you know the Scouts are a great institution, that are promoting young people and exposing them to opportunities and leadership that will serve people for the rest of their lives. And I think nobody should be barred from that.”

A spokesperson for the scouting organization has said BSA leadership was “discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation” but that decision would not come until after today, Feb. 4.

The scouting organization has not said whether the push from the president will sway their decision.

“We appreciate President Obama’s opinion and his recognition of the positive impact Scouting makes on our nation,” BSA spokesperson Deron Smith said.

According to Smith, groups that oversee scouting would still have the freedom to implement policies that suited their beliefs without the rule in place.

Repealing the ban “would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs,” Smith wrote in a statement a week ago. “BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families.”

In his first term,  the president worked to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the rule that kept gay and lesbian Americans out of the military. Early in his second term, Obama seems to be making advancing rights for that same group an even bigger priority.

President Obama took one of his strongest ever stances in favor of expanding rights for gay and lesbian Americans in his second inaugural address.

“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well,” Obama said in his address on the Capitol steps after his swearing in. It was the first time a U.S. president mentioned gay rights during inauguration.