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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (28 May) . . Page.. 730..


MR MOORE (continuing):

able to get to the person. The Director of the ACT Ambulance Service, Mr Paulsen, suggested that it would be unusual for someone to go in the fixed-wing aircraft and we would therefore need to get them to those hospitals by commercial means, usually commercial flights. We are looking at that with the intention of facilitating that, should this situation arise. I emphasise to members that we are doing everything we can, and making appropriate compromises, to ensure that we do not get to this stage; but we will not compromise on fee for service. We will not have a fee-for-service system operating in the Canberra Hospital. That is not in the best interests of the patients, it is not in the best interests of the hospital, and it is not the way we are going to work at the Canberra Hospital.

Release of Prisoner

MR HARGREAVES: My question is to the Minister for Justice. In the Minister's answer yesterday to Mr Osborne's question about the release of an ACT prisoner from Cooma Gaol, he said the prisoner had been released on 20 January without a parole order. The Minister also said that the prisoner's non-parole period had expired on 19 January. Can the Minister say why a parole order was not available at the gaol at the time?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, because a parole order does not automatically flow at the end of the non-parole period, a person has to apply for parole. As I understand the procedure, the application is considered by the ACT Parole Board, which is chaired by Professor Hambly, and a person is then granted parole on the basis that they have made out the grounds for doing so. I do not know whether this particular person had applied for a parole order and it had not been considered by the Parole Board, whether it had been considered and refused, or whether it had been considered and had been accepted but had not yet reached the gaol. I do not know which of those circumstances was the case. I can say that the gaol did not have a parole order by the ACT Parole Board at the time that they released him, and I would have thought that was a fairly fundamental requirement for releasing anyone from a goal unless their term, in full, has expired.

MR HARGREAVES: Thank you very much for that answer, Minister. I am seeking clarification of this because I honestly do not know what the go is. Can the Minister advise whether the Parole Board has a statutory obligation to consider a prisoner's case before the expiry of a non-parole period? It seems to me to be a bit silly that a non-parole period can expire and then there is a period, which means that you can extend the non-parole period. I would like to know how such a thing could happen. That is my supplementary question.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I am not entirely sure of the situation. I am happy to take the matter on notice, at least in part, and get better advice. I am told that the parole orders automatically come up for short-term offenders. They are thrown up automatically for consideration. I assume that means that they come before the Parole Board automatically for consideration. In this case that did not happen. Perhaps there was a breakdown in the mechanism which allowed the Parole Board to consider the matter or to make a decision on the matter and submit it to the authorities in New South Wales. I am not sure - - -


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