Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (3 May) . . Page.. 1497..
MR HARGREAVES: I ask for leave to make a statement in relation to the paper.
MR HARGREAVES: Can I say how amazed I am that it has taken the government five months to come up with a response to what was a fairly simple report. This is going to take a bit of detailed reading, and I suspect that we will need to take it away and have a think about it. But there are some amazing things in here that I have seen at first pass.
One of them is that the committee recommended back in December 2000 that the government continue to promote active community participation in the design of the prison. We have seen in the last couple of weeks or so how the community has erupted at Narrabundah and Red Hill. Their principal complaint, other than about what you might call nimbyism-you can consider their issues-has been about the way in which the consultation process has gone on. Mr Rugendyke sits there and shakes his head, but he was not there. I saw many people there I had never seen before, and they were very annoyed.
We have been talking about this prison project for three years. In this tabling statement from the minister it says, "A community consultation plan is being finalised, as is a communications plan." How long is a piece of string? A huge length of string is required to get this government to consult properly with people about this issue. It has hung a lot of its hat on this community panel, which has hardly done anything in the last month or two.
It brought out the Getting it right report, in which it recommended public ownership, and nothing has happened since. It is my understanding that the thing is likely to sit in the doldrums and do nothing for some time, which is not the intention the government had, and it is not the understanding that the Committee on Justice and Community Safety had of its role.
I was a little disappointed by the government's response to this, even though it has got "noted" and "noted" and "noted" and the occasional "agree", because what this report did was give the Assembly a window into what is happening in corrections throughout the country. Through it we received the advice of people who have struggled with the same questions that we are struggling with or will be struggling with: public ownership and public financing versus private ownership and private financing, economies of scale, how we look after our women prisoners and how we look after our indigenous prisoners.
I think this is a somewhat disappointing response. However, after five months, I am glad to see it has finally arrived.