The Weatherill Labor Government's refusal to admit that it will not meet its "Recruit 300" election promise was ridiculed today in Parliament, with comparisons made to Monty Python's sketch in which the shopkeeper maintains that the dead parrot is alive despite all evidence to the contrary.
Asked during Question Time whether the Government would meet its promise to have "313 more sworn police officers on the beat" than in 2010, the Minister said that the government is "on track".
However, evidence given to Parliament's Budget and Finance Committee by SA Police Director of Business Services Denis Patriarca earlier this month identified that SAPOL's projected police numbers for 2017-18 are 4,421.1 sworn officers, plus 36 community constables, and 188 police cadets – a total of 4,645.1.
In 2010, the corresponding figures were 4,367 sworn officers, 36 community constables, and 113 police cadets – a total of 4516.
"Labor promised the people of South Australia 313 more police officers on the streets, on the beat, and the truth is that this promise will never happen," said Shadow Police Minister John Gardner.
"It has been made clear in Parliament today that the number of sworn police officers will increase by 54 in the time period promised. If you include cadets then the increase is just 129.
"Whichever way Labor spins it, they aren't going to get anywhere near their promise of 313 more police, and yet they continue to insult the intelligence of the South Australian people by pretending that everything is on track.
"In 2010 this promise was for '300 more police on our streets over the next four years'. It was delayed from 2014 to 2016, then to 2018. It was amended last year to include cadets and community constables in the count. And now, even though police have given us their numbers for the final year, showing Labor to fall well short of their promise, Minister Piccolo can't bring himself to admit that Labor's election promise is dead in the water."
In Parliament this afternoon, Mr Gardner ridiculed Minister Piccolo's answers, likening them to Monty Python's pet shop owner claiming that the dead parrot is still alive.
"Like Monty Python's dead parrot, this promise is now finished. It is not resting, it is not stunned, it is not tired, or pining for the fjords. The truth is that this promise is no more. This promise has passed on. It is demised. It has ceased to be. It has expired and gone to meet its maker," Mr Gardner said.
"This is an ex-promise, and it is time for the Weatherill Labor Government to admit it and apologise."