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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 12 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3834..


Proposed New Remand Centre

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. In announcing the government's intention to bring forward construction of a new remand centre, the Chief Minister has announced that funding for the project will be provided through the capital works budget for 2001 - 2002. Can the Chief Minister tell the Assembly whether this decision means that the government has rejected an option for private financing of the project, or is the government anticipating a consultant's advice that private financing is not a preferred option?

MR HUMPHRIES: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for that question. The government's announcement is that we should have a fast - tracking of the remand centre part of this project. The way in which we propose to do that is to proceed initially with the remand centre component of the project, at this stage at least, as a standard capital works, on - budget type project. The project will appear in the coming year's capital works program. The cost entailed in building for that year will be referred to in the budget. The intention is that that will allow us to commence work in the coming financial year in terms of the physical construction of the building.

The intention is to run on a parallel track the proposal for the ACT prison. At a point where a decision is made about the future nature of the prison, that is, the way in which it should be financed, the way in which it should be built, who should own it and who should operate it, a decision will be made to try to integrate the two components of the proposal. It may mean, in the worst case scenario, that we have a remand centre already partly constructed when a plan for a prison is actually laid down on the table. That would mean that we would then attempt to have the prison plan adapted to the existing work done on the remand centre. That means that the facility, potentially, would be adapted in some way because of the existence of the remand centre in some form, or at least partly existing in some form even if only in the construction phase.

It is still possible, at the end of the day, that the total facility will be partly financed from the private sector. It is still possible that it could be owned ultimately by someone other than the government, and it is possible that it could be operated by someone other than the government. Those options remain open. The compromise which has occurred here is that we have the potential for the public sector to begin work on the remand centre, and the nature of the exercise in the public sector may change or modify the direction of the project in the long term if it is in the hands of the private sector.

MR STANHOPE: I thank the Chief Minister. Can the Chief Minister reassure the Assembly that the government is not compromising the desperately needed replacement of the Belconnen Remand Centre or the whole proposal to build a corrective facility by this apparently piecemeal approach?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I can assure the Assembly that this approach may entail extra cost, but it will ensure that we have a new remand centre purpose built for use by the territory in the 21st century sooner than otherwise would be the case. It is the classic trade - off between cost and need. We need this facility sooner; therefore we are

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