Some Katherine residents are questioning the cost of employing a small army of liquor inspectors to patrol retail outlets.
Ten of the new inspectors arrived last week with a further 12 to follow.
Wages alone are estimated to cost the taxpayer more than $1.5 million for the Katherine team of 22 each year.
One resident, who asked not be named, said the NT Government had been warned to consider reducing the size of the public service to better balance its budget.
“It seems a strange time to have so many people doing a job the business itself should be paying for,” she said.
According to the NT Police auxiliary information and application documents, each liquor inspector is paid at a base rate of auxiliary level three of $58,043 annually.
According to the documents, the position attracts a 20 per cent “consolidated” allowance of 20 per cent to bring the rate to $69,651 annually.
Higher payments of more than $80,000 are paid to auxiliary recruits with six or more years of experience.
The inspectors are also believed to attract other allowances, such as night shift allowances of 15 per cent and general policing allowances of a further five per cent.
Auxiliary officers work 40 hours per week with seven weeks annual leave.
Police auxiliaries (including those recruited as Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors or PALI’s) in Katherine do not receive any form of housing incentive or accommodation entitlements nor are they afforded any additional allowances, Commander Michael Hebb said.
In March last year, Chief Minister Michael Gunner announced 75 police auxiliaries would be recruited to train as Liquor Inspectors and stationed in front of bottle shops as part of a comprehensive plan to stop alcohol-fuelled violence in the NT.
The Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors will form part of a new 97-member strong unit within the NT Police, and will include 12 police officers specifically targeting secondary supply, seven operational staff and three prosecutors.
The measures will be backed by an $11.83 million investment annually, Mr Gunner said.
The government revealed just before Christmas it was borrowing money to pay wages because of a shortfall in finances.
The government seized on the idea of “re-purposing” police auxiliaries as liquor inspectors, to release fully trained officers back to the frontline.
These new recruits, although some of them were existing front office auxiliaries who have been retained, are asked to complete a 13-week training program.
Two groups of recruits have graduated with a three group being recruited right now.
Their training includes legislation, police powers and judicial process – as well as domestic and family violence awareness, child welfare awareness and policing between cultures.
Once recruitment is complete, there will be 75 Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors – 41 in Alice Springs, 22 in Katherine and 12 in Tennant Creek.
NT Police are recruiting now for the third group of liquor inspectors.
The next course is due to start on May 27.
Applications for this course close on February 8.
Community leaders, Katherine’s Mayor Fay Miller among them, have been calling for the return of police to bottle shops as a response to rising public drunkenness and anti-social behaviour.
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