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AFP commissioner weighs budget cuts

Australian Federal Police boss Andrew Colvin is considering what work the force will cut to meet its budget next year.

The AFP has run $27.2 million over budget this year due to the elevated national security risk.

The force has put on 80 more staff than set out in the budget papers, with its total workforce costing about $10 million more than anticipated.

Its additional supply costs – which underpin the technologies and systems used in field operations – have cost $9 million more than expected.

An enterprise agreement struck with AFP staff also stung its budget another $7.5 million.

The AFP will receive an extra $22.1 million in the next financial year, $5 million less than it overspent this year.

Labor senator Penny Wong quizzed the commissioner about how the AFP would meet its budget.

“Generally, my experience and I’m sure yours is, costs don’t tend to go down over a year,” Senator Wong said.

“Can you tell me how you’re not going to be in the same position of either having to overspend because there’s been insufficient allocation, or having some of the difficult decisions the commissioner has described previously about changes to your operational priorities.”

Mr Colvin said the AFP would need to reduce its costs to come in under budget.

“There are options we will need to think about in terms of work that we will not be able to do,” he said.

“I have a number of levers at my disposal to pull in terms of recruitment, for instance, around my unit costs, around my operational output.”

The AFP will have its funding trimmed by $205 million over the next four years, compared against its existing funding levels.

A range of programs are due to lapse or terminate over the next few years, including funding tied to an Asia-Pacific meeting in Papua New Guinea later this year and a finalised mission in the Solomon Islands.

“With all of those measures there are ongoing discussions about renewing programs, transferring them to new programs, adjusting the programs,” Mr Colvin said.

“Each measure will be a separate discussion with government.”

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