ACT Liberal Leader Jeremy Hanson. Photo: Jay Cronan
ACT Police Minister Simon Corbell has described changes to the policing of alcohol crime in the territory as ''sensible'' and says licensed venues will continue to pay higher fees to help fund the services.
The Attorney-General has also promised that the amalgamation of an alcohol crime squad with the city beats police will not reduce efforts to tackle alcohol-related crime.
On Wednesday the opposition will demand the government reinstate an alcohol crime task force, which was merged this month with the city beat police to fill a shortage of officers patrolling Civic after dark.
The Canberra Liberals will also call for $15 million that was cut from the ACT Policing budget to be restored to hire more officers for the understaffed city beat.
It comes after reports police chiefs had ''tolerated'' dangerously low numbers of beat police, despite written complaints from officers every month for two years.
Police management responded this month by merging the beats teams with the alcohol crime squad, which was established in 2010 under new liquor laws and partly funded by pubs and clubs through higher fees.
The alcohol task force was set up to curb alcohol-related violence. Funding the squad led the fees for some venues to rise to more than $10,000 under a risk-based licensing scheme.
Mr Corbell told the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday he was informed of the amalgamation about a week ago. The Attorney-General said the move would not reduce police resources targeting alcohol-related crime.
''Madam Speaker, the decision is one which is a sensible one on the part of the chief police officer,'' Mr Corbell said.
''The chief police officer is seeking to deploy his resources in the most effective way possible.
''Of course it makes sense that particularly on a Friday or Saturday night the alcohol crime targeting team, which is in operation often in the Civic area, will work with and co-operate with the city beats team.
''This does not result in any reduction in the capability of the new dedicated combined team to focus on alcohol-related crime and violence, and those activities will continue, I'm advised, unchanged.''
Under questioning from the opposition, Mr Corbell said the new structure would not mean a reduction in or refund of fees for licensees.
''There's no reduction in police,'' he said. ''There is no reduction in the focus provided to alcohol crime targeting. There's certainly no argument around the fees.''
Clubs ACT has lashed out at both the ACT government and police management, saying pubs and clubs were kept in the dark about the changes.
Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson called it ''a disgraceful situation worsened by deceitful alterations to crime prevention''.
The motion from Mr Hanson in the Assembly on Wednesday, as well as calling for additional beat police, will renew the calls from the Canberra Liberals for legislation to give extra protection for police officers who are assaulted in the course of their duties.