Australian Federal Police hiring to make up for firing

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The Australian Federal Police is hiring to make up for its firing. 

Recruiting: The AFP needs officers to guard important buildings, including Parliament House.
Recruiting: The AFP needs officers to guard important buildings, including Parliament House. Photo: Andrew Meares

The AFP wants to recruit and train protective service officers (PSOs) to guard Australia's most important buildings, including Parliament House but only after 88 of 733 PSOs were made redundant or moved elsewhere earlier this year. 

PSOs are the first response to terrorist attacks on vital buildings and their presence at buildings has been increased with threats from the Islamic State.

The cost of training a PSO recruit was about $100,000, according to Australian Federal Police Association president Jon Hunt Sharman.

He said 70 to 80 of the reductions in the PSO workforce were through redundancies. 


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"We've got the ridiculous situation where numbers have been cut and now the AFP has to recruit inexperienced personnel and train them," said Mr Hunt Sharman on Monday.

"Because there hasn't been forward planning we're now in the situation where it's costing the government more money."

The cutbacks were first flagged a year ago when the security risk to Defence establishments guarded by PSOs was downgraded and private sector contractors were to be brought in.

The AFPA raised concerns at the time with Defence Minister David Johnston by arguing it was being made for financial reasons rather than professional national security advice.

"The past 15 years has shown the threat to soldiers will not end with their duty abroad – there has been a 15-year trend of Islamist militants trying to kill Western soldiers on home soil," Mr Hunt Sharman said last November. 

It was understood PSOs were being put on these Defence sites in bigger numbers in recent weeks in line with the threat of terrorists. 

PSOs stand sentry at diplomatic and consular missions in Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney as well as at the official residences of Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Governor-General Peter Cosgrove in Canberra and Sydney.

They also work overseas at the Australian embassy in Jakarta and with Australian and foreign high office holders on an as-needs basis.

An AFP spokesperson said the PSO workforce cuts in the past year were driven by the Department of Defence's request to the AFP for a reduction in services.

"The reduction of 88 PSOs was achieved by providing opportunities for PSOs to transition to sworn policing roles, redeployment to suitable unsworn roles or through a voluntary redundancy process," the spokesperson said.

"There were no forced redundancies as part of this workforce reduction.
"The current recruitment drive for PSOs is in anticipation of new vacancies and government initiatives and has no relevance to services which the AFP supplies to Defence on a cost recovery basis."